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Supreme Court to begin deciding gay marriage Tuesday

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We are just hours away from arguments in a landmark Supreme Court case that could legalize gay marriage in every state.

Supporters and opponents will go before the high court Tuesday morning. The justices will hear two cases this week.

The first argument involves California's Prop 8, which amended that state's constitution to only recognize a marriage as being between a man and a woman.

The other argument involves the Defense of Marriage Act, which was signed into law back in 1996. It limits federal benefits like social security and joint income tax filings to heterosexual married couples.

It's a case being watched across the country, by supporters and opponents here in the valley and elsewhere.

The topic of gay marriage is no doubt a controversial one. Both sides are outspoken about their beliefs. But Monday night Phoenix residents against gay marriage prayed peacefully.

They held a candlelight vigil for marriage and the Supreme Court judges who will either uphold or redefine it.

"This is not against any person but just about standing in support of something that is very critical in history," said Lindsey Bailey.

Valley residents joined together in front of the Sandra Day O'Connor Federal Courthouse in downtown Phoenix the day before the U.S. Supreme Court takes its first serious look ever at the issue of same-sex marriage and whether the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection allows legal distinctions between same-sex couples and those of the opposite sex.

President of the Center for Arizona Policy, Cathi Herrod, says it shouldn't.

"Public policy would still favor the definition of marriage as being a union of one man and one woman. That social science data still shows that its marriage between a man and a woman that is the best family environment for children," said Herrod.

"This is really a matter of when, not if," says Kathryn Hamm.

Kathryn Hamm is the president of and the co-author of "Capturing Love," the first ever book that teaches photographers how to work with gay couples. Hamm is certain times are changing.

"The majority support same sex marriage and more people are feeling like it's time to move forward and accept it," she says.

This group would rather honor an institution they say is more than 2,000 years old and hopes their prayers reach the Supreme Court.

"It really boils down to what your religious beliefs are with faith and scripture. If you believe the bible is the word of God than you have to believe that God intended for marriage to be between one man and one woman," says Larry Fraley.

If the Supreme Court invalidates Prop 8 based on the reasoning of the federal appeals court, the ruling would affect only California, permitting marriage for same-sex couples to resume there. The court will decide the case sometime before its term ends in late June.

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