The U.S. Supreme Court will consider cases involving the constitutionality of same-sex marriage restrictions when justices confer behind closed doors Friday.

In all of the cases, the justices will decide whether to review lower court decisions declaring gay marriage restrictions unconstitutional.

The key cases are:

Hollingsworth v. Perry: The legal challenge to California's Proposition 8, the 2008 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. A federal appeals court found the law unconstitutional, saying it violated the rights of same-sex couples because it stripped away the previous legal right to marry in the state.

Office of Personnel Management v. Golinski: A challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, by Karen Golinski, a San Francisco woman who was denied health benefits for her spouse. A federal judge declared DOMA unconstitutional in the case, which was the first in which the Obama administration argued the law should be invalidated.

Gill v. Office of Personnel Management: A challenge brought by six Massachusetts couples against DOMA. The couples say they were deprived of equal rights because they were denied spousal survivor benefits in a state that permits same-sex marriage. A federal appeals court found DOMA unconstitutional in the case.


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Windsor v. United States: A challenge of DOMA by Edith Windsor, a New York woman who was subjected to federal estate taxes from the inheritance of her lesbian spouse even though she would not ordinarily pay any taxes were she deemed married under federal law. A federal appeals court found DOMA unconstitutional in the case, considered the most sweeping ruling on the law so far.

Howard Mintz covers legal affairs. Contact him at 408-286-0236 or follow him at Twitter.com/hmintz.