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Mass. AG Backing Gay Couple In Dispute With Church

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The Oakhurst Retreat and Conference Center in Northbridge.

The Oakhurst Retreat and Conference Center in Northbridge.

BOSTON (AP) — Attorney General Martha Coakley is arguing that Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination law should apply in the case of a married gay couple who sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester for allegedly refusing to sell them a Northbridge mansion because church officials were concerned they would host gay weddings.

James Fairbanks and Alain Beret filed suit in Worcester Superior Court in 2012 after church officials pulled out of negotiations.

The Diocese has argued the state’s antidiscrimination laws don’t apply.

Coakley argues the laws do apply to the “public, commercial sale of real property” by the Diocese and that its religious rights aren’t burdened by the sale.

Coakley also argues that the state’s interest in eliminating discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation outweighs any burden on religious rights imposed by applying the antidiscrimination statute in this case.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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