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WA Supreme Court hears gay marriage case today

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The gay marriage issue goes before the Washington Supreme Court today in Olympia.

The court will hear arguments on whether Washington's Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional.

The court is hearing appeals from King and Thurston counties involving 19 couples who want their gay relationships recognized as marriages. Two judges found that denying marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples violates the state constitution's requirement of equal treatment for all citizens.

The lawsuits contend that the law denies homosexuals access to family courts, community property laws, parental rights and the ability to make health care decisions for each other.

Lawyers for the state argue that same-sex unions are not a fundamental right. They say the state recognizes marriage as a means for procreation and extends privileges to married couples to help create a stable environment for children.

The Legislature passed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1998 to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.
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