In what is expected to be the last stop before the U.S. Supreme Court, a federal appeals court will hear arguments next week in two cases challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), gay weekly the Washington Blade reported.

DOMA bars federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriage of gay and lesbian couples.

A three-judge panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments on Wednesday.

The one-hour hearing will address two cases: Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Department of Health & Human Services. Both cases were ruled on in 2010 by U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro, who decided in both instances that DOMA violates the constitutional rights of married gay couples.

Last month, a federal district court in California ruled similarly.

Jason Wu, a staff attorney for GLAD, which filed Gill on behalf of eight married couples and three widowers – including Dean Hara, the husband of Rep. Gerry E. Studds – in Massachusetts, said the California decision may play a role in the cases.

β€œIt always helps when another court affirms what we believe is right, which is that DOMA represents a straight-forward equal protection violation and there is really no good reason to treat gay married couples differently from straight married couples,” Wu said.

The Republican-led House last year ordered the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) to defend DOMA after President Barack Obama instructed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to no longer defend the law in court. BLAG attorney Paul Clement will defend the law during the hearing.

(Related: Both sides criticize John Boehner over defense of gay marriage ban DOMA.)