Debate over same-sex marriage continues

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SARASOTA - Nine justices on the nation's highest court have joined the debate over same-sex marriage.

This is the Supreme Court's first major examination of gay rights in ten years with a hearing today on Prop. 8, which is California's ban on same-sex marriage.

People waited in line since Thursday just to get a seat at today's arguments, and those who support marriage equality here on the Suncoast say they're anxiously awaiting a resolution.

Today's argument for prop 8 could determine whether marriage is only between a man and a woman.

On Wednesday in a separate case, the justices will take up the part of the federal defense of marriage act that prevents same-sex couples who are legally married from receiving a range of benefits available to straight married couples.

Reverend Nancy Wilson is the global leader of the Metropolitan Community Churches worldwide and she says her relationship with her partner is no different than any other and should be recognized that way legally. “When people are legally married in our country they have about 1,100 rights, most of them granted by the federal government, but also some by state governments, and gay couples who are not married, do not have those benefits.”

Reverend Tigard at the Church of the Trinity says his church has performed marriage ceremonies for gay couples since 1968, and the Supreme Court's decision could change many lives. “It’s our homes, it’s our lives, it’s much more than a Supreme Court decision... We are standing for justice and equality for all people, including Florida…I think that's important... As Christians we are called to stand for justice and equality.”

Tonight there will be a prayer service in support of marriage equality at the Church of the Trinity in Sarasota.