Last week, the United States Supreme Court scheduled a closed-door conference to review several cases that seek to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act that was overwhelmingly passed by Congress and signed into law by former President Bill Clinton.  The reason for the meeting is quite simple.  The Court must decide which, if any, should be placed on the court’s schedule for arguments next year.

The outcome is crucial.  It carries important social and economic consequences for gay, lesbian, and bisexual couples who are unable to file joint income taxes, access Social Security survivor benefits, inherit a deceased spouse’s pension, or obtain family health insurance.

The federal trial courts that heard the cases ruled the act violates the civil rights of legally married gay men and lesbians.  Two appellate courts agreed, making it highly likely the high court will agree to hear at least an appeal.

There have probably never been so many gay rights cases knocking on the Supremes door at one time.  The Supreme Court was also scheduled to discuss whether it should take two more long-simmering cases dealing with relationship recognition for same-gender couples.

The first is an appeal of two lower court rulings that struck down California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.  The second is a challenge to an Arizona law that made state employees in same-gender relationships ineligible for domestic partner benefits.