WASHINGTON - The Obama administration Tuesday decided to appeal a judge's ruling that prevented the U.S. government from banning same-sex marriages.
The Obama administration filed a notice of appeal with the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in support of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that barred gay marriages, even though President Barack Obama had previously opposed the law.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro in Boston ruled in July for several gay couples who had argued that the Defense of Marriage Act interfered with the rights of states to define marriage.
Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriages and had in a separate challenge argued that the law denied benefits to same-sex couples available to heterosexual married couples.
Tauro agreed with the challenge by the couples and the state, saying the law forces Massachusetts to discriminate against its own citizens and therefore was unconstitutional.
A Justice Department spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.
The appeal comes at a tough time for Obama, who has been trying to shore up his liberal base ahead of the contentious congressional elections when his fellow Democrats are expected to lose many seats to Republicans. Democrats could lose control of the House of Representatives.
A key concern has been whether those who have supported Obama in the past will show up to vote next month. He has opposed same-sex marriages but supported civil unions and extended some benefits to gay partners of federal employees.
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