The U.S. Supreme Court may hear cases that seek to overturn a law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, The Huffington Post reported. The court has scheduled a closed-door conference for Friday in which justices will decide whether or not to hear five cases that center on the gay marriage issue next year.
The outcome carries economic and social consequences for gay, lesbian and bisexual couples, who now are unable to access Social Security survivor benefits, file joint income taxes, inherit a deceased spouse's pension or obtain family health insurance.
The lower courts that heard the cases ruled the act violates the civil rights of gays and lesbians who are legally married in states such as Massachussets where same-sex unions are sanctioned by state law. Two appellate courts upheld the decisions.
Congress overwhelmingly approved the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
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