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Massachusetts court strikes down ban on same-sex marriage

Justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued their ruling in the case of Goodridge v. Department of Public Health on Tuesday.
Justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued their ruling in the case of Goodridge v. Department of Public Health on Tuesday.

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BOSTON, Massachusetts (Reuters) -- The highest court in Massachusetts ruled Tuesday it is unconstitutional for the state to deny marriage to gay and lesbian couples, a move that could make the state the first to legalize same-sex marriages.

In a ruling posted on its Web site, the Supreme Judicial Court said the state of Massachusetts may not "deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry."

The lawsuit Goodridge v. Department of Public Health was brought by several gay and lesbian couples seeking the right to marry in Massachusetts.

Gay marriages are forbidden in the United States, although one state, Vermont, allows same-sex civil unions.

Earlier this year the U.S. Supreme Court overturned state sodomy laws, a move some conservatives said could open the door to gay marriage.

That decision and Canadian steps taken to legalize gay marriages earlier this year have intensified the debate.



Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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