WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court's first major examination of gay rights in 10 years is over. Now, the nation will have to wait for a decision.
The Supreme Court is raising the prospect that it will find a way out of the case over California's ban on same-sex marriage without issuing a substantial ruling on whether gays have a right to marry.
Several justices, including some liberals who seem open to gay marriage, raised doubts Tuesday that the case is properly before them. Justice Anthony Kennedy, the potentially decisive vote on a closely divided court, suggested that the court could dismiss the case with no ruling at all.
Some people were waiting in line outside the court since Thursday to get a seat at today's arguments -- including some who'd been paid to hold spots for others. Actor and director Rob Reiner was at the head of the line this morning. He helped lead the fight against the voter-approved ban in California that is the subject of the case being heard today.
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Tomorrow, the court considers the federal law that prevents legally-married gay couples from receiving a range of benefits that are given to straight married Americans.
Both sides of the debate are represented among demonstrators outside the court today. Supporters of gay marriage came with homemade signs including ones that read "a more perfect union" and "love is love."
Among the opponents was a Rhode Island man who wore a button that read "marriage 1 man plus 1 woman." He said his group represents the "silent majority."
Supporters and opponents of gay marriage rallied in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. By the time the court began Tuesday the sidewalk outside the court was packed, and supporters spilled over to the other side of the roadway. "Gay, straight, black, white, marriage is a civil right," the crowd chanted at one point, followed by "we honor this moment with love." Many gay marriage supporters came with homemade signs including ones that read "a more perfect union," "love is love," and "`I do!' want 2 B (equals)"
Opponents marched down the roadway in front of the court, many carrying signs including "Every child deserves a mom & dad" and "vote for holy matrimony."