TODAY   |  March 26, 2013

Supreme Court poised for gay marriage argument

The Supreme Court will hear arguments today as they consider whether or not California’s same-sex marriage ban is constitutional. If the court strikes down Proposition 8, same-sex marriage would resume in California. NBC’s Pete Williams reports and legal analyst Lisa Bloom discusses the case.

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>>> the u.s. supreme court hears a landmark case today that could drastically change how the government handles the controversial issue of same-sex marriage. pete williams is at the court . good morning to you.

>> reporter: matt, good morning. californians who gave barack obama 61% of the vote in 2008 also approved proposition 8 , a ban on same-sex marriage in that state. now the court will consider whether that's unconstitutional discrimination, and more broadly, whether any state can ban it. the day has finally come for the people who have lined up for days to see the historic argument.

>> i've been out here for four days and the reason i'm out here is just because it's such an historic moment, it's only going to happen once in my lifetime and i wanted to be here to witness history.

>> reporter: the two california couples at the heart of today's case are already here after a brief visit monday to see the constitution at the national archives . their lawyer says prop 8 should be struck down because allowing them to get married would have no effect on traditional couples.

>> the proponents of proposition 8 still haven't been able to come up with an argument as to why for all the good things about marriage we need to keep people out who want to get married.

>> reporter: but prop 8's defenders say it's legally proper to limit marriage to opposite sex couples.

>> unions of two men and two women are not the same thing as a marriage between a man and a woman, and only marriage between a man and a woman can connect children to their mother and father and their parents to the children.

>> reporter: if the court strikes prop 8 down, same-sex marriage would resume in california . and depending on how broadly the court ruled, it could also require some or even all other states to allow same-sex marriage, too. but if the court upholds prop 8, that would leave the door open for another election in california on whether to get rid of it. a guest of chief justice john roberts will be watching today's argument with special interest . his cousin from san francisco who says she's a lesbian hoping to get married. during his 2005 confirmation hearing, roberts introduced her along with other family members. in a guest column for a gay rights group, that's her on the left in the picture, she wrote, "everyone in this country has a family member" who is part of the gay and lesbian community . tomorrow, the court takes up the defense of marriage act . the federal law that blocks the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in the nine state where is they are allowed. we'll probably get decisions in both cases toward the end of june, matt.

>> pete williams at the court this morning. pete, thank you very much.