- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 4, 2012

BOSTON (AP) — Lawyers for a gay and lesbian legal advocacy group told a federal appeals court panel Wednesday that a federal law denying benefits to married gay couples that heterosexual couples get is discriminatory.

A lawyer for a bipartisan congressional group argued Wednesday in Boston that Congress had a rational basis for passing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996 when it appeared Hawaii would legalize gay marriage. The attorney said Congress wanted to have one uniform law.

DOMA defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman and prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.

In 2010, a federal judge in Massachusetts declared a key section of the law unconstitutional. Gay marriage is legal there.

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