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With the court

Last week, the United States Supreme Court agreed to take up two cases regarding same-sex marriage.

The justices agreed to examine a challenge to the constitutionality of California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. They also will consider a case that challenges the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal marriage benefits to legally married gay couples.

Whatever direction the court takes with its decisions — and it will possibly be making history — it is unlikely to be the final word on the matter.

Same-sex marriage remains a divisive issue, but it’s clear attitudes are changing.

Consider that we haven’t reached a decade since the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. It’s not hard to remember the shock and anger voiced in some quarters that these Bay State judges had the gall to come to that decision. Concerns were raised that allowing two men or two women to be married would somehow harm the “sacred institution” of marriage.

It’s been eight-plus years since those first same-sex couples walked down a Massachusetts aisle, and people here in the commonwealth as well as around the nation should have seen that these nuptials didn’t rock the sacred institution of marriage ... nor did the decision force unwilling churches to perform marriages for gay and lesbian couples.

We’d like to think that the Massachusetts example also helped get people around the nation thinking about their ingrained attitudes. Perhaps some asked themselves what was so wrong with two adults who loved each other wanting to enter into the bonds of matrimony?

There is some evidence to this effect. This fall, a number of other states voted to approve same-sex marriage, bringing the total to nine that have made it legal. And polls around the nation show that more Americans support legalizing gay marriage than oppose it. Those attitudes are essentially a reversal of thinking from just four years ago.

The Supreme Court justices shouldn’t be swayed by polls or emotional opinions, but are expected to rule based upon how those specific laws measure up to the Constitution.

We hope that, like many lower courts, the highest court of the land is going to see that banning same-sex couples from getting married is unconstitutional. But whatever the rulings, it’s clear that the move toward equal rights in this matter will continue to march forward.

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