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Massachusetts leads fight on right to marry

Readies its case that US law hurts same-sex couples

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.

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