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Chief justice's lesbian cousin will attend landmark gay-marriage argument

NBC's Pete Williams joins The Daily Rundown for a preview of the upcoming legal battle over same-sex marriages.

A lesbian cousin of Chief Justice John Roberts will attend the landmark Supreme Court arguments on gay marriage and says she is confident he will see that gays deserve “dignity, respect, and equality under the law.”

Jean Podrasky told the Los Angeles Times that she will sit in a section of the courtroom reserved for relatives and guests of the chief justice. She said that her partner of four years, Grace Fasano, whom she wants to marry, will attend with her.

Podrasky, an accountant who the Times said is a first cousin of the chief justice on his mother’s side, wrote about Roberts in a column Monday for the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

“I feel confident that John is wise enough to see that society is becoming more accepting of the humanity of same-sex couples and the simple truth that we deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and equality under the law,” she wrote.

The court is hearing two gay-rights cases this week. On Tuesday, it will consider Proposition 8, a ban on gay marriage approved by California voters in 2008. Podrasky lives in San Francisco.

On Wednesday, the court will take up the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which blocks federal recognition of gay marriages sanctioned by states and prevents legally married gay couples from receiving certain federal benefits.

Roberts was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2005. He generally sides with the court’s conservative wing, but last year he sided with liberals on the court in upholding President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

Podrasky told the newspaper that she usually sees the chief justice only on family occasions and that he knows she is gay. She hopes he will meet her partner during their visit to Washington.

Supreme Court justices can give tickets to family and other guests. The seats are to the justices’ left as they face the courtroom.

Podrasky told the newspaper that she got the coveted courtroom seats by emailing Roberts’ sister, then going through his secretary. She said Roberts knows she is attending.

In the weeks before the 2008 election, Podrasky carried a sign opposing Proposition 8 at a transit station and handed out fliers on a college campus, the Times reported.

In her column, she wrote that she believes Roberts understands that ruling for gay marriage will not be “out of step with where the majority of Americans now sit,” and hopes that most of the other justices will join him.

“I am certain that I am not the only relative that will be directly affected by their rulings,” she wrote.

Pete Williams of NBC News contributed to this report.

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