The U.S. Supreme court has set dates for hearings on two cases concerning same-sex marriage. It will hear arguments on California's Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in the state, on March 26, beginning at 7:00 a.m. Pacific time.
It will hear a challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA the next day, on March 27, at the same time.
In the Proposition 8 hearing, Hollingsworth v. Perry, the court is asking parties to argue whether the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the State of California from defining marriage as the· union of a man and a woman.
It's also asking them to present arguments on whether the people defending Proposition 8 -- its sponsors -- have legal standing. Normally state government officials would defend a state law that is challenged in federal court, but in this case California's governor Jerry Brown opposes the law.
DOMA prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage for any purpose under federal laws, such as providing benefits like healthcare. In United States v. Windsor, the court is asking the parties to present arguments about whether this violates the Fifth Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law.
It is also asking them to debate the question of whether the U.S. House of Representatives has standing to defend DOMA since President Barack Obama is declining to defend it.