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Boston appeals court hears gay-marriage law case

Boston appeals court to hear challenge to federal Defense of Marriage Act By The Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) ' An appeals court in Boston is set to hear arguments in a legal battle over a law that denies federal benefits to married gay couples.

The 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.

In 2010, a federal judge in Massachusetts declared a key section of the law unconstitutional. Gay marriage is legal there.

Judge Joseph Tauro found that the law interferes with the right of a state to define marriage and denies married gay couples many federal benefits given to heterosexual married couples, including the ability to file joint tax returns.

A bipartisan congressional group is appealing Tauro's ruling. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is to hear arguments Wednesday.

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