People wishing to be present for next week’s Supreme Court hearings on same-sex marriage have begun queueing outside to guarantee their place in the audience, facing four nights in freezing conditions and potential snow.

While it is not unusual for people to line up overnight to be present for landmark Supreme Court cases such as last year’s Health Care Reform hearings, queueing for four nights in harsh weather conditions is exceptional.

Around a dozen people, one of whom even arrived as early as Thursday afternoon, have started a queue to hear Tuesday’s arguments on Proposition 8 and Wednesday’s on the Defense of Marriage Act, both of which prohibit same-sex marriage.

One of the people in line, a local resident named Rick, told AFP: “I have gay friends and I’m here to support them.”

The queue was a mix of both opponents and supporters of equal marriage, reflecting how passionately both sides of the debate have been fighting over the issue in the US.

A recent poll showed 58% of Americans now support same-sex marriage while 36% oppose it, which has been called a “mirror image” of public opinion ten years ago.

“It’s such an exciting, big moment in history. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss it,” queue member Jason Wonacott told the Huffington Post.

The Huffington Post reports that some people in line, including the first person in the queue who arrived on Thursday afternoon, were professional line-standers, paid to queue by clients who will take their place on Tuesday.

Last week the Supreme Court made the unexpected announcement that audio of the arguments would be available on the same day they were given, which is rarely allowed.

The BBC’s weather service predicts rain and snow in Washington DC on Monday.