It seems unlikely the court will order gay marriage to be legalized in all 50 states, but there's a good chance it could strike down the contested section of the Defense of Marriage Act. That would have tangible benefits for married gays: Federal recognition of their unions would impact estate taxes, health insurance for spouses of federal workers, Social Security survivor benefits and many other matters.
And it would amount to arguably the biggest victory ever for the gay-rights movement in the U.S.
Regardless of how the court rules, gay-rights activists generally feel Obama has kept his pledge from December 2008 to be a "fierce advocate" for their causes by supporting gay marriage and enabling gays to serve openly in the armed forces.
Their remaining issues with Obama have dwindled to only a few. They'd hoped for selection of the first openly gay Cabinet member and they've been urging Obama to issue an executive order barring federal contractors from anti-gay discrimination in the workplace.
Republicans, meanwhile, seem increasingly divided and uncertain in regard to the marriage debate. Rob Portman of Ohio and Mark Kirk of Illinois recently became the first GOP senators to endorse same-sex marriage, and a supportive brief was filed with the Supreme Court by dozens of other Republican VIPs, including several former governors.
However, most currently serving Republican leaders remain opposed — in line with the party's platform and the views of religious conservatives who have clout in many GOP primaries.