From AP - News -

High Court Skeptical of Federal Marriage Law

Listen to the Story

(Duration: 1:54:37)

 Edith Windsor

Plaintiff Edith Windsor, of New York, is helped by security in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, March 27, 2013, after the court heard arguments on her Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) case. The U.S. Supreme Court, in the second day of gay marriage cases, turned Wednesday to a constitutional challenge to the federal law that prevents legally married gay Americans from collecting federal benefits generally available to straight married couples. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

The Supreme Court is indicating it could strike down the federal law that prevents legally married gay couples from receiving a range of federal benefits for married people.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the decisive vote in close cases, joined the four more liberal justices in raising questions about the provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that is being challenged at the Supreme Court.

Supporters wave American and gay rights flags outside the Supreme Court during the Defense of Marriage Act case hearings on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

Kennedy said the law appears to intrude on the power of states that have chosen to recognize same-sex marriages. Other justices said the law creates what Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called two classes of marriage, full marriage and "skim-milk marriage.''

The law affects a range of benefits available to married couples, including tax breaks, survivor benefits and health insurance for spouses of federal employees.

It also is possible the court could dismiss the case for procedural reasons, though that prospect seemed less likely than it did in Tuesday's argument over gay marriage in California.