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U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage to be revealed Wednesday

Updated: July 27, 2013 6:38AM

The wait is nearly over.

The U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday will announce decisions in two same-sex marriage cases — California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman and therefore keeps legally married gay Americans from collecting a range of federal benefits that generally are available to married people.

The justices have several options from which to choose. They might come out with rulings that are simple, clear and dramatic. Or they might opt for something narrow and legalistic.

The court could strike down dozens of state laws that limit marriage to heterosexual couples, but it also could uphold gay marriage bans or say nothing meaningful about the issue at all.

Legal experts said they don’t expect a dramatic decision when it comes to same-sex marriage.

“They will not decide one way or another about whether or not there is a national right to same-sex marriage,” said Carolyn Shapiro, director of the Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law Institute on the Supreme Court of the United States

University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone said, “I expect them to decide the case narrowly.” He added, “I don’t think the court will resolve that question either way.”

However, experts predict the justices will declare DOMA unconstitutional.

It’s “just less politically tricky,” said Northwestern University law professor Andrew Koppelman said, adding, “Where if you were going to bring same-sex marriage to Utah and Mississippi, the political reaction would be a good deal more negative.”

State Rep. Deborah Mell (D-Chicago) said she’s anxiously awaiting the decisions.

“I have my fingers crossed for the best possible outcome in both of those cases, which would be equal marriage is the law of the land, and we all get the full rights and benefits from the federal government,” she said.

That would essentially make Illinois’ stalled effort to legalize same-sex marriage irrelevant, one expert said.

The chief sponsor of the Illinois bill, state Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), is also hopeful.

“So many families are hoping this will pave the way for their relationship being fully recognized by the federal government,” he said.

Contributing: AP

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