March 27 - Pro-gay marriage activists call on the the Supreme Court to strike down an act that denies federal benefits to legally married same sex-couples. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) For the second day running, the Supreme Court convened on Wednesday (March 27) to tackle the issue of gay marriage, this time to hear arguments over a U.S. law that denies federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. Almost two hours of oral argument will be heard by the court on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The nine justices heard arguments on Tuesday on the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage. In those arguments, the justices displayed a reluctance to rule broadly on the right to marry for gays and lesbians, suggesting the court may be similarly cautious about DOMA. Rulings in both cases are expected by the end of June. The cases come before the court as polls show growing support among Americans for gay marriage but division among the 50 states. Nine states recognize it; 30 states have constitutional amendments banning it and others are in-between. DOMA limits the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. It permits benefits such as Social Security survivor payments and federal tax deductions only for married, opposite-sex couples, not for legally married same-sex couples. President Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law in 1996 after it passed Congress with only 81 of 535 lawmakers opposing it. Clinton, a Democrat, earlier this month said that times have changed since then and called for the law to be overturned.