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When Minnesota approves gay marriage, does Supreme Court listen? Maybe. (+video)

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Some analysts see the recent events as helpful to the cause of gay rights, while others suggest the rapid progress could convince a swing justice or justices that the intervention of the courts is not necessary.

In one possible scenario, the rising tide of public opinion and state laws favoring equal rights for gay men and lesbians may embolden Justice Anthony Kennedy, a potential swing vote, to join the court’s liberal wing in providing special legal protections for gay Americans like those that cover African-Americans, Latinos, and women.

On the other hand, the recent successes might also convince Justice Kennedy and/or other justices that the political process – and democracy itself – is an engine of change sufficient enough to guarantee the rights of gay Americans.

If gay-rights advocates have enough political clout to win legislative favor in three states within 12 days, perhaps they don’t need the intervention of the highest court in the land, according to this view.

In a key exchange during oral argument at the Supreme Court on March 27, Chief Justice John Roberts agreed that there had been a sea change in American attitudes about gay marriage in recent years.

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