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Supreme Court takes up gay marriage: what the justices have to decide

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The decisions are the fruit of a concerted campaign by gay rights advocates to denounce marriage restrictions and those who support the restrictions as bigoted and irrational.

Gay rights advocates maintain that the American public will inevitably embrace same-sex marriage, in the same way that Americans embraced interracial marriage in the years following the high court’s 1967 decision in a case called Loving v. Virginia.

In the 15 years prior to that landmark decision by Chief Justice Earl Warren, 14 states repealed their bans on interracial marriage. By the time the issue arrived at the high court in 1967, only Virginia and 15 other states still had similar laws on the books.

In the same-sex marriage issue, today 37 states have passed constitutional amendments or statutes restricting marriage to one man and one woman.

In contrast, nine states plus the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage. The recognition has come as a result of court rulings, state legislation, and by state-wide referenda.

There is evidence that that the tide of public opinion may be shifting.

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