The Supreme Court is expected to decide today if it will take on the gay marriage argument, Thomson Reuters reports.

The nine justices are scheduled to hold a private meeting today to make the decision, and may announce later today or early next week whether they will hear the cases.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is at the center of the legalization of gay marriage debate. The Act, which Congress passed in 1996, makes it legal for only a man and a woman to marry. Gay and lesbian individuals are specifically challenging the part of the law that prevents them from receiving the same federal benefits that heterosexual individuals do.

Nine states and Washington, D.C., have legalized gay marriage—three states as recently as earlier this month on election day. But even in those states, gay couples don’t qualify for most federal benefits because of DOMA. Thirty-one states have passed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.

The Supreme Court is considering requests to hear five cases that challenge DOMA as a violation of equal protection provisions of the Constitution. The high court is expected to hear at least one of those cases because it’s a lower court decision that invalidates federal law.

If the high court takes one or more of the cases, it’s likely they will hear it in early 2013.

Read more about this story on Thomson Reuters.

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