By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
Washington (CNN) The divisive issue of same-sex marriage was expected to be discussed privately by the Supreme Court on Monday, and the justices could soon announce if they will hear a constitutional challenge to a federal law denying financial benefits to gay and lesbian couples.
An order from the court announcing whether it will take up either or both of two separate issues could come as early as Tuesday morning. If so, oral arguments and an eventual ruling would not happen until next year, but the current appeals are sure to reignite the hot-button social debate in a presidential election.
At issue is whether guarantees of "equal protection" in the U.S. Constitution should invalidate a California law - and the separate 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which for federal purposes defines marriage as the legal union only between one man and one woman.