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Mass. says federal marriage law unconstitutional

Associated Press

BOSTON -- Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley says a federal law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman interferes with her state's right to regulate the institution.

Coakley's office filed a lawsuit in July challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act. In papers filed late Thursday, Coakley asks a judge to deem the law unconstitutional without holding a trial on the lawsuit.

Coakley argues that regulating marital status has traditionally been left to the states. She also says the federal law treats married heterosexual couples and married same-sex couples differently on Medicaid benefits and burial in veterans' cemeteries.

Massachusetts was the first state to legalize gay marriage and is the first to challenge the law.

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