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The case is the first of its kind in Texas, and in the conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican running for governor, opposes legalizing gay marriage and has vowed to defend the law.
Attorneys general in other states have taken mixed approaches to court challenges to bans on gay marriage. Utah and Oklahoma are fighting rulings lifting their bans, while in Nevada and Virginia, attorneys general have chosen not to defend them.
—In Missouri and Louisiana, gay-rights advocates filed lawsuits similar to those in the Kentucky case, seeking to force the states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in places that allow them.
The Missouri lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in a Kansas City state court on behalf of eight same-sex couples who live in Missouri and were married elsewhere. Among the plaintiffs were Janice Barrier and Sherie Schild, of St. Louis County, who have been together for 33 years and married in Iowa in 2009. Both Barrier, 61, and Schild, 60, have battled cancer in recent years, and they worry about what the future holds if the state refuses to recognize their marriage.
"We’re really concerned that if one of us would end up in a nursing home we might not have the same rights to care for each other in privacy that different-sex married couples enjoy in Missouri," Barrier said. "It’s so very important to us that we’re not torn apart at the very end of our lives."
The Louisiana suit was filed in federal court by a state gay-rights group, the Forum for Equality Louisiana, on behalf of four gay couples. It says state revenue department policy essentially requires married same-sex couples who file joint federal tax returns to falsely claim they are single on state returns — a violation, the Forum says, of free speech.
The lawsuit also challenges the state’s refusal to recognize both members of a same-sex union as parents of a child born to them or adopted.
Crary reported from New York. Associated Press writers Chris Tomlinson in San Antonio, Jim Salter in St. Louis and Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans contributed to this report.
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