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Writing for a 5-4 majority, Kennedy said the federal government — Congress, in that case — should defer to states’ authority to define marriage.

“I mean, if Sue loves Joe and Tom loves Joe, Sue can marry him and Tom can’t,” the chief justice said.

The Supreme Court is set to hear historic arguments in ...

more FILE - In this March 23, 2015 file photo, Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Shelly Bailes, 74, left, and her wife, Ellen Pontac, 73, both of Davis, Calif., kiss in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, April 28, 2015.

The Supreme Court is set to hear historic arguments in cases that could make same-sex marriage the law of the land.

Kennedy’s opinions Pratheepan Gulasakaram, who teaches constitutional law at Santa Clara University, said Kennedy appeared to be torn, but added, “It’s harder to see him voting against a right to same-sex marriage, given his opinions in the past.” A majority for same-sex marriage rights might even include a sixth justice, Roberts, despite his voting record — he dissented from Kennedy’s 2013 ruling on federal benefits — and despite most of the chief justice’s comments at Tuesday’s hearing.

Roberts told Bonauto, the couples’ lawyer, that her clients were “not seeking to join the institution (of marriage), you’re seeking to change what the institution is.He told Bonauto that male-female marriage “has been the law everywhere for thousands of years” among people who were not discriminatory, and now the plaintiffs want “nine people outside the ballot box” to require holdout states to change their laws, with little time to study the impact of changes in other states.Like interracial marriage Bonauto replied that much the same could have been said about interracial marriage before it was legalized nationwide by the court in 1967.Is it the people, acting through the democratic process, or is it the federal courts? Here are the full transcripts of each hearing: The constitutional question The state recognition question But Bursch then proceeded to define marriage, as an institution historically based on the “biological bond” between parents and children, rather than the “emotional commitment” between adults.When he said marriage “was never intended to be dignity-bestowing,” he seemed to offend Kennedy, whose invocation of the dignity of same-sex couples and their families was a center point of his 2013 ruling.In the end, it seemed that same-sex couples, and their claim to the “dignity-bestowing” status of marriage, were narrowly ahead.