Feds Appeal Massachusetts Rulings against US Marriage Law

By Denise Lavoie | October 12, 2010 | 4:59 PM EDT

(AP) - The U.S. Department of Justice has appealed rulings by a judge in Massachusetts who deemed unconstitutional a federal law denying married gay couples federal benefits.

The DOJ on Tuesday filed a notice of appeal in rulings made by U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro in two separate lawsuits.

Tauro ruled in July the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it interferes with a state's right to define marriage and denies married gay couples an array of federal benefits given to heterosexual married couples.

President Barack Obama has repeatedly said he would like to see the DOMA law repealed. But the Justice Department has defended its constitutionality, which it is required to do.

Massachusetts was the first state to legalize gay marriage.