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Obama administration: Massachusetts can't force federal gay marriage benefits

By DEVLIN BARRETT, Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration argues there is no right to marriage-based federal benefits in new court papers seeking to throw out a lawsuit brought by Massachusetts over gay marriage.

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

Massachusetts says that law is discriminatory and deprives gay couples in the state of certain 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The Obama administration agrees the Defense of Marriage Act is discriminatory and wants it repealed, but says it has an obligation to defend laws enacted by Congress while they are on the books.

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