Justice Department Weighs In On Gay Marriage

The Justice Department has asked a Boston judge to dismiss a lawsuit that claims a federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit claims the act wrongly denies gay couples access to federal benefits given to other married couples.

In court documents filed Friday, the Justice Department makes it clear the Obama administration thinks the law is discriminatory and should be repealed. But the department said it was defending the statute because the law is "constitutionally permissible."

The 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act bars federal recognition of gay unions and denies gay couples access to pensions, health insurance and other government benefits.

Seven gay couples and three widowers from Massachusetts filed the challenge to the law earlier this year.

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