"Massachusetts sued the U.S. government on Wednesday, challenging the constitutionality of a federal law that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
"We're taking this action today because, first, we believe that [the Defense of Marriage Act] directly interferes with Massachusetts' long-standing sovereign authority to define and regulate the marital status of its residents," Attorney General Martha Coakley said Wednesday afternoon.
"Massachusetts has a single category of married persons, and we view all married persons equally and identically," she said.
"DOMA divides that category into two distinct and unequal classes of marriage."
The lawsuit argues that the act, which became law in 1996, denies same-sex couples essential rights and protections, including federal income tax credits, employment and retirement benefits, health insurance coverage and Social Security payments.
"In enacting DOMA, Congress overstepped its authority, undermined states' efforts to recognize marriages between same-sex couples, and codified an animus towards gay and lesbian people," the state wrote in the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in federal court."
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