Cleveland's lesbian and gay community watching closely arguments before U.S. Supreme Court

CLEVELAND - As the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments heard arguments on California's Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage, Joan Burda of Lakewood was listening closely.

A nationally-recognized legal expert on matters facing the LGBT community, Burda followed along as the court entered into its first gay rights debate in a decade.

"I thought the discussion with the court was interesting," Burda said. "I think the court will probably decide that they shouldn't have taken the case in the first place… Or they'll decide that the 9th Circuit decision was appropriate, and the Prop 8 folks had no standing and California will become the 10th marriage-equality state in the country."

What's clear, she said, is the feeling the justices likely want to keep this at the state level.

"I think Justice Kennedy, in particular, is very skeptical of making a national decision on this issue I think, in fact, he's the one who suggested that maybe they shouldn't have heard it in the first place. Justice Scalia said well, we already did."

"I don't think there are five votes to invalidate Prop 8 directly, I think they'll kick the can and wait for a later date."

I never expected them to take the Prop 8 case and so I think they're going to do it gradually. The democratic process is working, attitudes are shifting and I think even Ohio may find itself as a marriage-equality state in the next few years."

The court on Wednesday will hear arguments on the federal law that prevents legally-married gay couples from receiving a range of benefits afforded to straight, married people.

Phyllis Harris of the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland said, regardless of the outcome of either case, people are talking and opinions are changing. That's evidenced she said  by the number of people who changed their Facebook profile photos Tuesday to the red equality symbol.

"They believe it's not, it's discriminatory to not allow people who love each other to get married and they're talking about it and it's excellent," Harris said.

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