TODAY   |  March 25, 2013

Supreme Court prepares for gay marriage battles

The court will hear the arguments over Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California, and the Defense of Marriage Act, while families affected by the same-sex marriage bans await a decision. NBC’s Pete Williams reports.

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>>> the u.s. supreme court is taking on the hot button issue of same-sex marriage and people on both sides of the issue are lining up outside the court this morning. nbc's justice correspondent pete williams is there. good morning to you.

>> reporter: savannah, good morning, it's been a long, cold wet night of waiting for the people outside the court. some of them have been here since thursday and the arguments start tomorrow. the court hears a challenge to two laws, proposition eight that stops same-sex marriage in california and the defense of marriage act that blocks the federal government from recognizing it, but for the five people at the heart of this case, it's simple, they just want to get married. kristen perry and sandy steer have been a couple for 13 years living in berkeley, california. they've raised four boys now ages 18 to 24. what they most want to be is married.

>> we love each other, we're a family. we want to experience the same societal acceptance and inclusi inclusion.

>> reporter: along with a gay couple in lossage he will, jeff zorillo and paul catami, they say propsation eight is unconstitutional.

>> the state is excluding people based on who they are, based on their sexual orientation from an incredibly important institution in this country for no good reason.

>> reporter: but prop let's defenders say allowing same-sex couples to wed could weaken the institution of marriage.

>> it's really difficult for americans and our public policy and our culture to emphasize the fact that mothers and fathers are necessary when the law says they're optional.

>> reporter: 83-year-old from new york is challenging doma, blocking federal recognition of same-sex couples in states where they are allowed to marry, denying them 1,000 federal benefits other spouses get. when her spouse died and left the estate she got a bill from the, for $365,000.

>> i was lovesick, i lost the love of my life and this incredible expense.

>> reporter: after president obama concluded the law unconstitutional house republicans entered the case to defend doma. this case comes to the court in a very different political climate than four years ago when prop eight became law. just yesterday republican adviser karl rove said in the next presidential election he could see one of the republican candidates favoring same-sex marriage.

>> it's a story we'll cover a lot this week, thank