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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court plunged into the contentious issue of gay marriage Friday when it agreed to take up California’s ban on same-sex unions and a separate dispute about federal benefits for legally married gay couples.
The court’s action gives the justices the chance to say by late June whether gay Americans have the same constitutional right to marry as heterosexuals. Several narrower paths also are open to the justices as they consider both California’s voter-approved Proposition 8 and the provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that denies to legally married gay Americans the favorable federal tax treatment and a range of federal health and pension benefits given to heterosexual couples.
The court is embarked on what could be its most significant term involving civil rights in decades. In the area of racial discrimination, the justices already have agreed to decide cases on affirmative action in admission to…
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