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U.S. Supreme Court Likely To Decide On Possible Prop. 8 Hearing Next Month

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Same-sex marriage supporters outside the California Supreme Court building in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Same-sex marriage supporters outside the California Supreme Court building in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – The U.S. Supreme Court indicated Monday that it is likely to decide in late November whether to review the case of Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The high court Monday posted a notice on its website revealing that the Proposition 8 case is on the agenda for the justices’ private conference on Nov. 20, along with five other cases challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Under the court’s normal procedures, its decision on whether to hear the California marriage case would be announced in an order list released on Monday, Nov. 26.

The sponsors of the 2008 voter initiative prohibiting gay and lesbian marriage in California have asked the justices to overturn a decision in which the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco found the measure to be unconstitutional.

If the high court grants review, a decision would be expected by the end of June.

If it denies a hearing, the 9th Circuit decision will go into effect and gay and lesbian weddings could resume in California.

In an appearance in San Francisco 10 days ago, Theodore Olson, a lawyer for two couples who challenged Proposition 8, said that if the Supreme Court denies review, same-sex marriages in the state could resume as early as Dec. 1.

But Olson, of Washington, D.C., said he thinks the court is more likely to take up the Proposition 8 case so that it can look at the issues in that lawsuit together with those in the Defense of Marriage Act cases.

The court may want to address all the issues of marriage rights and alleged discrimination together and “get it done,” Olson said.

The placement of a case on the court’s conference agenda does not guarantee the panel will act on the case that day. The court previously put the Proposition 8 appeal on the agenda of its Sept. 24 conference at the start of the current court term, but never announced any action.

But the combination of the Proposition 8 and DOMA cases on the Nov. 20 agenda appears to make it more likely that the court is preparing to act.

The Defense of Marriage Act bars the U.S. government from recognizing same-sex marriages for purposes of federal benefits and tax deductions, even when the marriage has taken place in a state allowing such unions.

One of five DOMA cases on the high court’s Nov. 20 conference agenda is a challenge to the law filed by Karen Golinski, a staff member of the 9th Circuit in San Francisco who wants to enroll her wife in a government employee health plan.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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