High court hears case on federal benefits for gays

MARK SHERMAN PETE YOST Associated Press Published:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a landmark debate over gay marriage, Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative but often a decisive vote, is expressing concern that a federal law that prevents married gay couples from receiving benefits afforded straight married Americans might conflict with state laws.

Kennedy's comment came as other conservative justices on the court seemed skeptical about whether they should even proceed with the case over a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act.

Kennedy said there was a "real risk" that the challenged statute would conflict with state laws, particularly in income tax cases.

The court is hearing arguments in the case Wednesday on its second day of hearings on gay rights issues.