Massachusetts files pro-gay marriage court brief

Coakley led the filing on behalf of Massachusetts

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court urging it to take up several pending cases concerning the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex marriage.

Coakley led the filing on behalf of Massachusetts and 14 other states, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington.

Coakley said the experience of Massachusetts — the first state to legalize gay marriage — shows that allowing same-sex couples to marry has only benefited families and strengthened the institution of marriage.

Thirty-one states don’t allow marriage between same-sex couples or recognize same-sex marriages licensed by other states.

The brief argues that by withholding the rights associated with marriage those states relegate gay and lesbian couples to a second-class status in violation of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

“Laws that bar same-sex couples from marrying are discriminatory and unconstitutional,” Coakley said. “The time has come for this critical issue to be resolved.”

Coakley said the brief was filed in support of petitions for Supreme Court review of three cases.

She said the “significant deprivation of rights suffered by same-sex couples and their families when they are categorically excluded from the institution of marriage” merits the intervention of the Supreme Court.

She said families may reject a job or educational opportunity in another state — or refuse to move out-of-state to care for a sick relative — if their marriages are not validated in the new state.

The court filing came as a U.S. appeals court ruled that same-sex marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana are unconstitutional. The unanimous decision by the three-judge panel of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on Thursday criticized the justifications both states gave for the bans, several times singling out the argument that marriage between a man and a woman is tradition. There are, the court noted, good and bad traditions.

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