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National Briefing

Washington, D.c.

Justice Dept. says no gay benefits

October 31, 2009|Times Wire Reports

States that allow same-sex marriage can't force the federal government to provide benefits to those couples, the Obama administration argued in court papers in a lawsuit by Massachusetts.

The Justice Department is at odds with Massachusetts -- the first state to allow gay marriage -- over a 1996 federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Massachusetts sued in July, saying that law is discriminatory and deprives gay couples in the state of some federal spousal benefits.

The Obama administration agrees the Defense of Marriage Act is discriminatory and wants it repealed, but says it has an obligation to defend laws enacted by Congress while they are on the books and can be reasonably defended.

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