Apr 03, 2012 1:32 PM GMT
From the link:
Massachusetts will once again take center stage in the national debate over same-sex marriage as the state becomes the first to go before a United States appeals court to challenge a federal law that defines marriage as a union only of a man and a woman.
The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston on Wednesday will hear two cases that challenge the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act: The first is a lawsuit brought by 17 local plaintiffs who say it deprives them of the federal benefits that other married couples receive. The second, brought by the state, alleges the Marriage Act forces Massachusetts to discriminate against gay couples when the state’s highest court has already declared their marriages constitutionally protected.
“It’s a civil rights issue,’’ Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said in an interview Friday. “It discriminates against our citizens, and frankly we can’t see any rational basis for the statute.’’
Nearly a decade after Massachusetts became the first state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage, gay-rights supporters say a growing national recognition of such marriages gives them a solid footing as the debate begins to make its way through the federal appellate court system.
Supporters of the Defense of Marriage Act argue, however, that it protects other states from having to accept same-sex marriage if their own voters disagree with it. They say that any attempts to repeal the act should be through the electoral process.