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Marriage Battleground Shifts To Massachusetts

Publication Date: 
December 01, 2009
San Francisco Chronicle
Bob Egelko

Professor Jane Schacter talked to Bob Egelko about the latest development in the legal dispute over same-sex marriage:

The focus of the legal dispute over the federal refusal to recognize same-sex unions has shifted from California to Massachusetts, where the courts will tackle the question of whether Congress must treat all state-approved marriages equally.

On one side are gay and lesbian couples who can't file joint tax returns, receive their partners' Social Security benefits or enjoy other rights that the government grants to opposite-sex spouses. They are joined by the state of Massachusetts, which says it is being forced by federal law to become an accomplice to discrimination.


Stanford law Professor Jane Schacter said both sides in the case have presented tightly focused arguments that steer the courts away from issues of gay rights and same-sex marriage, and toward state-federal relations and the scope of government authority.

"This is all about evenhandedness ... the right to have the federal government recognize the marriage if the state does," Schacter said.