The United States Supreme Court announced Friday that it would take on two cases challenging state and federal same-sex marriage laws that define marriage as a union that can only exist between a man and a woman.
According to the New York Times, the move correlated with a change in public opinion on same-sex marriage; recent polls indicate that a majority of Americans support allowing these unions.
A California case has the potential to establish or reject a constitutional right for gay couples to marry. The court could rule that their decision only applies to marriages in California.
A second case from New York challenges a federal law requiring the government to deny benefits to gay couples married in states that allow gay marriage.
In February 2011, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and President Barack Obama concluded that the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 was unconstitutional, though the Obama administration would continue to enforce the law. Section 3 of the law excludes same-sex marriage for the purposes of more than 1,000 federal laws and programs.