BERKELEY, Calif. -- A highly anticipated argument over gay marriage this week in the U.S. Supreme Court could decide the fate of gay couples across the country and redefine marriage in the 40 states that don't allow such couples to wed. People were already lined up outside the court Sunday, hoping for seats for a case that could make history.
The lesbian couple at the heart of the case will be there Tuesday when their lawyer, Theodore P. Olson, tries to persuade the justices to strike down California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriages and to declare that gay couples can marry nationwide.
Supporters of California's ban, represented by lawyer Charles Cooper, argue the court should not override the democratic process and impose a judicial solution that would redefine marriage.
A second closely watched case, set to be argued on Wednesday, involves the part of the federal Defence of Marriage Act that prevents same-sex couples who are legally married from receiving a range of federal tax, pension and other benefits that otherwise are available to married people.
Momentum in the U.S. has been shifting in favour of gay rights, including gay marriage, despite conservatives' insistence marriage should be defined as only between a woman and a man. U.S. President Barack Obama came out in favour of gay marriage last year during his re-election campaign and has been even more vocal in favour of gay rights since his second term began.
Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, along with another same-sex couple, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, have been waiting for Tuesday's arguments since they agreed four years ago to be the named plaintiffs and public faces of a well-funded, high-profile effort to challenge California's ban in the courts.
But the couple has been riding a marriage roller-coaster since 2003, when Perry asked Stier to marry her. They were planning a symbolic wedding when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered city officials to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples in 2004. So they were married, but only briefly. Six months later, the state Supreme Court invalidated the unions.
-- The Associated Press