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Pro-LGBT Mass. AG Eyes Senate Seat

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Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley, who filed a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, became the first person Tuesday to formally initiate the process of running for the open seat of Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Coakley has not yet announced her intention to run, but she picked up nominating papers from the secretary of state; candidates must collect 10,000 signatures by October 20 to be eligible. The special election is scheduled for January 19, 2010.

In July, Coakley filed a lawsuit on behalf of 16,000 married same-sex couples in the state arguing that DOMA compromises Massachusetts's authority to define and regulate marriage.

A statement from Coakley's office read: "It is unconstitutional for the federal government to discriminate, as it does because of DOMA's restrictive definition of marriage. It is also unconstitutional for the federal government to decide who is married and to create a system of first- and second-class marriages. The federal government cannot require states, such as Massachusetts, to further the discrimination through federal programs, either. The time has come for this injustice to end."

The race to fill Senator Kennedy's seat could be a packed field if Joseph Kennedy II, the late senator's nephew, declines to run. Other possible candidates include U.S. congressmen Stephen Lynch, Edward Markey, and Michael Capuano, and former congressman Martin Meehan. Republican potentials include state senator Scott Brown and former lieutenant governor Kerry Healey.

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