Supreme Court gives two big victories for gay rights
June 26th, 2013
12:12 PM ET

Supreme Court gives two big victories for gay rights

  • The Supreme Court issues two key rulings affecting same-sex marriage in the U.S.  
  • Part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down
  • The justices also cleared the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California after rejecting an appeal on the state's Proposition 8
  • Refresh this page for the latest news, analysis and reaction

[Updated at 12:12 p.m. ET] It's the end of a busy morning of momentous rulings from the Supreme Court. We're still working on getting analysis on and reaction to the two landmark decisions that will impact marriage between same-sex couples in the United States and we'll bring that to you on, CNN's mobile apps and CNN TV.

We'll sign off this live blog now, thanks for reading. Here are links to more of the coverage we already have:

Our main story: Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage hailed as historic victory

Details on the DOMA case: Supreme Court strikes down federal provision on same-sex marriage benefits

Details on the Proposition 8 case: Supreme Court dismisses California's Proposition 8 appeal

From CNN Money: The financial impact of the same-sex marriage ruling

Gay celebrities who are married or engaged

Same-sex marriage by the numbers

[Updated at 11:49 a.m. ET] Religion and marriage are intricately tied together for many and our Belief blog co-editor Daniel Burke has got a range of reaction from believers and non-believers.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is one of those looking at the decisions through a religion lens:


[Updated at 11:43 a.m. ET] Both the decisions affecting same-sex marriage were 5-4 splits. And the dissenting justices put out some strong opinions of their own.

Justice Scalia on the DOMA case:

Few public controversies touch an institution so central to the lives of so many, and few inspire such attendant passion by good people on both sides. Few public controversies will ever demonstrate so vividly the beauty of what our Framers gave us, a gift the Court pawns today to buy its stolen moment in the spotlight: a system of government that permits us to rule ourselves.

Some will rejoice in today's decision, and some will despair at it; that is the nature of a controversy that matters to much to so many. But the Court has cheated both sides, robbing the winners of an honest victory, and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat. We owed both of them better. I dissent.

Justice Kennedy on the Proposition 8 case:

What the Court fails to grasp or accept is the basic premise of the initiative process. And it is this. The essence of democracy is that the right to make law rests in the people and flows to the government, not the other way around. Freedom resides first in the people without need of a grant from government. The California initiative process embodies these principles and has done so for over a century... In California and the 26 other States that permit initiatives and popular referendums, the people have exercised their own inherent sovereign right to govern themselves. The Court today frustrates that choice.

[Updated at 11:35 a.m. ET] Kris Perry, one of the key figures in the Proposition 8 case, said it was a victory not just for couples wanting to wed but also children. "No matter where you live, no matter who your parents are, no matter what kind of family you're in, you are equal, you are as good as your friends' parents and your friends."

She added: "We can go back to California and say to our own children - all four of our boys - your family is just as good as everybody else's family."

[Updated at 11:20 a.m. ET] There are a lot of rainbow flags flying today. Including on Google if you search "gay."

[Updated at 11:11 a.m. ET] Family Research Council president Tony Perkins released a statement saying his group was "disappointed" in the DOMA ruling and "disturbed" by the detail of the Proposition 8 decision but that it also took some heart from the Supreme Court's actions.

“Their refusal to redefine marriage for all states is a major setback for those seeking to redefine natural marriage," he said. "Time is not on the side of those seeking to create same-sex ‘marriage.’ As the American people are given time to experience the actual consequences of redefining marriage, the public debate and opposition to the redefinition of natural marriage will undoubtedly intensify."

He concluded: “What is inevitable is that the male and female relationship will continue to be uniquely important to the future of society. The reality is that society needs children, and children need a mom and a dad. We will continue to work to restore and promote a healthy marriage culture, which will maximize the chances of a child being raised by a married mother and father.”

[Updated at 11:08 a.m. ET] The Human Rights Campaign, which has pushed for LGBT equality, is declaring two "monumental victories." Here's the top of their statement:

In recent years, California’s Proposition 8 and the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act became symbols of anti-LGBT discrimination around the country and around the world. Today, both crumbled.
In a watershed moment in the fight for equality, the United States Supreme Court today ruled to return marriage equality to California and to strike down DOMA. The court ruled in the Prop 8 case on procedural grounds, not reaching a decision on the merits of Prop 8 or the broader question of whether the Constitution guarantees the fundamental right to marry the person you love.
Marriages in California are expected to begin again soon. While a joyous milestone, these victories nonetheless throw into sharp relief the uneven progress for LGBT people around the country—a landscape where states like California are rapidly advancing toward equality, but progress in many other places remains stagnant.

[Updated at 11:05 a.m. ET] A little more detail on exactly what the Proposition 8 decision by the Supreme Court means: By dismissing the case, the decision will allow for the lower court decision in California that allows for same-sex marriage to be reinstated. The appeals court stay on the decision will be lifted.

[Updated at 10:59 a.m. ET] Here's what Hollywood is saying - some reactions from celebrities, many of whom have campaigned for gay rights.




And this is George Takei on Facebook:

Today marks a watershed moment in history and a tremendous victory for the principle of equality. The 5-4 decision by our Supreme Court striking down DOMA affirms the universality of love–the desire of all people not only to find, but to value and affirm, a lifelong commitment to another person.

I have lived nearly four score years, and have borne witness to both the heartbreak and promise of true justice and equality in America. Today my heart soars, and my faith in the promise of our great nation is renewed.

Now, if there's anything we gays know how to do well, it is to celebrate! Let the joy of this day ring out with PRIDE.

[Updated at 10:47 a.m. ET] The key couples in the California case just held their arms aloft in celebration on the steps of the Supreme Court building. "This is a great day for America," said one of their lawyers, David Boies.

[Updated at 10:46 a.m. ET] So what's your reaction to the rulings today?

[Updated at 10:38 a.m. ET] It sounds like we'll be looking into these rulings for a while – Jeffrey Toobin just said the Proposition 8 case was "a puzzling decision" and a "puzzling" line-up of justices who backed the decision.

The opinion about Proposition 8 was written by Chief Justice Roberts who was joined by Justice Scalia, a conservative, and three liberals – Justices Breyer, Ginsburg and Kagan.

[Updated at 10:35 a.m. ET] Same-sex marriage can resume in California - that's the result of the Supreme Court ruling just in that dismisses an appeal regarding California's Proposition 8.

From our colleague Bill Mears:

The Supreme Court has dismissed a closely-watched appeal over same-sex marriage on jurisdictional grounds, ruling Wednesday private parties do not have "standing" to defend California's voter-approved ballot measure barring gay and lesbians couples from state-sanctioned wedlock. The ruling permits same-sex couples in California to legally marry. The 5-4 decision avoids for now a sweeping conclusion on whether same-sex marriage is a constitutionally-protected "equal protection" right that would apply to all states. The case is Hollingsworth v. Perry (12-144).

[Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET] New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told CNN the ruling was a "great win." "“A great win not just for the gay community, it’s a great win for the American tradition of equal justice under the law,” he said.

[Updated at 10:29 a.m. ET] House Speaker John Boehner was just asked about the DOMA case, but he declined comment until he's read the ruling.

[Updated at 10:26 a.m. ET] The ruling on Proposition 8 - California's ban on same-sex marriage - is in.

[Updated at 10:23 a.m. ET] And yes, the president was watching. His Twitter account is calling the DOMA ruling "a historic step forward," though it's not signed with the "bo" that shows he wrote it.


[Updated at 10:22 a.m. ET] President Obama was going to be monitoring the rulings on Air Force One as he heads to Senegal, CNN's Jessica Yellin reports.

[Updated at 10:17 a.m. ET] Supporters of same-sex marriage waiting outside the Supreme Court cheered the DOMA decision. Reaction is also coming in from Twitter.

DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said that "finally" all married couples would get benefits.


[Updated at 10:15 a.m. ET] Of course we can't draw any conclusions from the DOMA ruling about which way the justices will decide on California's Proposition 8. 

[Updated at 10:12 a.m. ET] The justices were split 5-4. The majority ruling was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. Dissents were written by Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Samuel Alito.

[Updated at 10:09 a.m. ET] Legal expert Jeffrey Toobin puts the ruling in context: "DOMA is gone."

[Updated at 10:08 a.m. ET] From our team in Washington:

The Supreme Court has struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that same-sex spouses legally married in a state may receive federal benefits.

[Updated at 10:06 a.m. ET] This is the case where Edie Windsor said she had to pay more in inheritance tax than warranted because her spouse was a woman not a man.

[Updated at 10:02 a.m. ET] We're reading the decision to see how the justices ruled regarding the rights of legally married same-sex couples to receive federal benefits provided to heterosexual spouses.

[Updated at 10:01 a.m. ET] There is a ruling in the DOMA case.

[Updated at 10:00 a.m. ET] So it's 10 a.m. in the nation's capital and the Supreme Court should be sitting. No cameras inside the court of course, so we can only assume they are good timekeepers.

[Updated at 9:54 a.m. ET] Two days ago Lady Gaga called on the Supreme Court to "make history & stand for MARRIAGE EQUALITY." That's now been retweeted nearly 14,000 times. But will it have had any impact on the nine justices?


[Updated at 9:50 a.m. ET] Here are some of the people who weren't specifically part of the cases argued before the Supreme Court but who will almost certainly be affected by the rulings. CNN's Moni Basu profiled gay couples who are at the center of two big political debates – same-sex marriage and immigration.

[Updated at 9:44 a.m. ET] While we're waiting for the opinions to be delivered, here's Donna Brazile's take on yesterday's landmark ruling on the Voting Rights Act. The Democratic strategist says it's time for President Obama and Congress to pass a new Voting Rights Act.

[Updated at 9: 40 a.m. ET] A quick reminder that you can watch our reporting live on CNN TV as well as refreshing this page and staying with CNN on and our mobile apps.

[Updated at 9:19 a.m. ET] Large crowds are gathering outside the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. and on social media. Right now we can see rainbow gay pride banners and blue flags with a yellow "=" sign that is a standard of those fighting for more rights for same-sex couples. Not in view are groups who support traditional marriage between a man and a woman, but that's not to say they're not there. Both sides were strongly represented when the Supreme Court heard the arguments back in March.

On Twitter, #DOMA will probably start trending soon. There's certainly a lot of people tweeting about the Supreme Court today.

The Tie the Knot organization that wants marriage equality tweeted "The big day is here."


It's no surprise that GLAAD wants marriage equality.


Or that the Family Research Council is backing traditional unions.


And this, from CNN legal eagle Jeffrey Toobin:


[Posted at 9:05 a.m. ET] It's set to be the last public day of the Supreme Court session, and we're waiting for opinions in three cases - two of which address same-sex marriage.

It's widely expected that we'll get rulings on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8, and those rulings could affect the lives, rights and finances of millions of Americans.

CNN Supreme Court producer Bill Mears writes that DOMA, passed in 1996, defines marriage as between one man and one woman for federal purposes, like taxes. "That means the estimated 120,000 gay and lesbian couples legally married in nine states and the District of Columbia are still considered - in the eyes of DOMA opponents - the equivalent of girlfriend and boyfriend."

That meant that Edie Windsor faced a hefty bill for inheritance taxes when her partner of 42 years died. She claimed in court that she had had to pay $363,053 more than if her spouse, thea Spyer, had been a man.

But Mears points out that the DOMA issue is more than just a financial question:

The larger debate over DOMA's intent and impact 17 years after passage has driven a wedge between the executive and legislative branches.

At issue is what role the federal government should play when it comes to marriage - something states have traditionally controlled.

The other key case expected to be decided today considers Proposition 8. "In the 'Prop 8' case, the high court is being asked to establish a constitutional 'equal protection' right. It is the kind of hot-button issue that will define our society, our laws, our views on family," Mears writes.

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Filed under: Justice • Same-sex marriage • Supreme Court
soundoff (1,107 Responses)
  1. Katy

    This is amazing. Love is love. The biggest threat to "traditional" marriage is the astronomical divorce rate, not gay marriage. What a great step forward.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • sosueme

      Rick Springfield: sources?

      June 26, 2013 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  2. JohnJohn

    Here comes the doomsday prophets.... Too late.

    Canada did the same 10 years ago and the end of the world hasn't happened. So accept it move on with your life and be happy for others.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  3. Rick Springfield

    This nation truly deserves to go to hell, it shall fail, it shall fall, and the people of this nation will truly know the terror and the horror that is to follow. Get your affairs in order and be ready to suffer like no other generation that has come before it.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      You may be right, but not because of this

      June 26, 2013 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • cedar rapids

      so why will god do something because of gay marriage but couldnt care less about doing something during the terrible time of slavery in the US?

      June 26, 2013 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  4. Hiram57

    A Great Day in American History !

    June 26, 2013 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  5. Rick McDaniel

    This was really the right decision. That said, I respect the right of those in the religious community, who have the impression that marriage is a religious issue, to dissent.

    However, and this is the key issue.......religion has no place in government. It belongs in the church.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jim

    Another nail to seal America's coffin. Another shameful action under the cloak of "progress." Look around – I do not see much progress, just the further weakening and perversion of this society.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      Awww, JimBob....equal rights bother you?

      This is not weakening the country, this is strengthening it,

      Standing up to the bigotry you so readily embrace

      Jesus is waiting. Got your sidearm?

      June 26, 2013 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • KyleDasan

      What you see as weakness, I see as strength. It is the dying out of the old, hateful ways, and the ushering in of a more youthful culture. In essence, America is growing up, one baby-step at a time.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |

    Another mistake by the Supreme Court. Marriage is between a man and a women, not a man and man or women and women. Next the Supreme Court will say marriage is OK between human and animal. This is a sad day for morality.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • btechno


      June 26, 2013 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Ralph_in_FL

      People like you always resort to ridiculous non sequiturs because you have no rational arguments to support your prejudices.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      morality is treating all people equally. whoops. how awkward for you.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • joan

      The Supreme Court ruled that it is not equal under the law. It has nothing to do with what your religion tells you. Its about equal rights.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      You are obviously wedded to your stupid ideals.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • veritasguild

      Oh, sorry, I forgot that your religious beliefs should be used as the framework for public government! How silly!

      June 26, 2013 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • DGoodin

      Marriage is between consenting adults. Animals can't give their consent. Your argument is specious.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • logic is your friend

      So you're a proponent of polygamy but not gay marriage?

      June 26, 2013 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Donnie the Lion

      That's ignorant, and un-Christian. Any two people who truly love each other deserve the same benefits as anybody else. Nothing great about you at all. You are small-minded and your ilk are dying out.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Maybe if you learn how to spell, you can be taken more seriously. In the mean time, you're a bigot who can't spell. What a surprise!

      June 26, 2013 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Boo

      It's the 21st century – 2013 – wish you were here. You are a prime example of the Republican party – BIGOTED AND OUT OF TOUCH. And then you wonder why your party keeps losing elections.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Matrix

      That's fine, GR, but why should the government be involved in marriage to begin with?

      June 26, 2013 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • 40acres

      It may be a sad day for you....but I believe that must stem from your obsession about what gays are doing in the bedroom.....otherwise you are simply against a loving long term commitment between couples.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • steve

      Marriage is between a man and a women and god. Federal benefits and marriage is not the same thing. You can say they cant be married in your church but everyone has the rights to these benefits. Its not recognized by God, doesnt mean the federal government cant recognize it- Marriage can have different meanings.

      Give caesar whats caesars...etc.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Edward C.

      While you are reading your Fairy Tale Bible, chatting with talking serpents and burning bushes on the beach in front of a parting sea, say hello to Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy for me!

      June 26, 2013 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • CRB

      Well, cry all you want. It's done! I still don't see how giving people equality is WRONG to you? Doesn't make any sense to me at all. But, I'm not going to waste my energy trying to figure you out. Instead, I am going to continue to teach equality and understanding, and be happy that the SCOTUS actually did something right today. You'll learn eventually. I just hope it's not too late when you finally do.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Atheism is for everyone

      As an atheist man married to a woman I find it funny that atheists like me are more Christ-like when it comes to "Do to others as you would have them do to you." And don't pretend your objection isn't a religious one.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Great win for American freedoms today. THIS is where "morality" is at its finest, not when we're oppressing a group of our own citizens.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Imontop

      Gays be like, I want to be on the bottom now

      June 26, 2013 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Kurt Cantin

      Government should not be involved in marriage, that is between individuals, there church and beliefs. Government should provide only civil unions and release marriage back to individuals and their church where it all started. I hate these religious people who say God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve, yet the same God also created hermaphrodites (man and woman in one person) yet somehow other "mistakes by God" as they see it cant happen? It is not a mistake, it is the way God creates. Jesus never even spoke on the subject and the Old Testament is essentially the same book the Taliban and the like use to justify their sick demented view. Vote Libertarian and be done with these problems of big government!

      June 26, 2013 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • jeff1951

      @ GREAT REPUBLICAN Hold your breath until you get your way.... or 'til you go away.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  8. blakenaustin

    A very sad day in the U.S. No moral compass. The far left is cramming their agenda down the throat of the American people.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • joan

      Its not about morality – its about equality.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • ToolTime

      It is you who are forcing your beliefs on the American people. If you don't like it don't participate. You cannot deny rights in this wonderful country.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • secoulte

      Except poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans are now in favor of gay marriage.

      So who is cramming who's agenda now?

      June 26, 2013 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      blake: what does orientation have to do with morality?

      June 26, 2013 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • LogicalConclusion

      Yeah! If anyone should be cramming an agenda down someone's throat it should be the right with their education and tolerance!

      June 26, 2013 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  9. Andrew T

    The only people burning in hell are bigoted Christians who follow the teachings of other bigots, not Jesus. Get over it. Pray for YOURSELF, you hate monger.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • BC

      Relax Andrew dont get your panties in a wad...

      June 26, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. K Rahmani

    I have gay friends and I like the idea that they get the same treatment as straight couples. Those who bring 'religion' as their argument are living in the stone age. More gay couples means more adoptions, more diversity, and less stigma against gays. Woot woot!

    June 26, 2013 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  11. Patrick

    The was never about marriage. It was a bout money or benefits. Watch all the lawsuits about benefit claims happen.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  12. Paul

    New Flash – Religion is fiction made up by man

    June 26, 2013 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • William

      Hey you ignorant fool, tell that to our Founding Fathers who knew that our nation could not have been raised up without God's help. Tell that to God when you stand before Him in judgment and he's crushing you into dust in preparation your suffering the torments of the damned forever in the pit of Hell. Don't believe it? Some people don't believe in gravity and try walking off of cliffs, and proceed to pay the price. And yours is a very high price to pay... if you are wrong. You're only fooling yourself.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • G

      Gay "marraige" is a fiction made by man. Just as an apple is not an orange, man + man is not a marraige.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Landru


      June 26, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christy Canyon

      So are two guys thinking they are a man & woman. So is a man thinking he's a woman. So is a woman thinking she is a man. HA

      June 26, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Lingard Jr

      YES!!! I hope this all goes world wide it is nothing but paper anyways let it go ya'll who are against this. It is not god to condemn gay marriage it is closed minded people who take the bible in the wrong ways and make there own way of belief. Get over it I am an ordained minister but i also believe that god created humans in his own image no way to get past that we all all humans. That is no matter what anyone thinks or how they read the book.

      June 26, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Andrew T

    And which Church do you attend?

    June 26, 2013 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  14. Anatoly

    I wonder in what direction this country is moving. A man faces up to 13 years in prison for writing anti-big-bank slogans that were left using washable children's chalk on a sidewalk outside of three San Diego.

    In addition to possibly spending 13 years in jail, Olson will also be held liable for fines of up to $13,000 over the anti-big-bank slogans that were left using washable children's chalk on a sidewalk outside of three San Diego, California branches of Bank of America, the massive conglomerate that received $45 billion in interest-free loans from the US government in 2008-2009 in a bid to keep it solvent after bad bets went south.
    "I've never heard that before, that a court can prohibit an argument of First Amendment rights," said Tosdal.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  15. rh

    Two choices – the government stays out of marriage or they allow the most liberal two-person definition of marriage. Unfortunate they picked the second, but the Christians want it that way and they are the majority.

    On the other hand, I had to get married due to federally mandated benefits (health insurance) and I wish the government would stay out of the marriage business completely. It is a religious ceremony, and violates the separation clause.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Steven

      While I agree with you in part, marriage is not just a religious ceremony. There are many marriage ceremonies that do not include religion whatsoever. In fact, without a marriage license, a religious ceremony is null and void.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • cedar rapids

      'It is a religious ceremony'

      Actually its not. All religions claim a ceremony to official make it a marriage in their religion but the concept of marriage was around before religion got involved.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • JustSomeone

      Actually, marriage is a legally binding contract. I think you are confusing marriage with "holy matrimony." Marriage has existed before Christianity or religion got involved. The state/nation has every right to dictate who can sign legally binding contracts and who can receive federal benefits.

      June 26, 2013 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      Newflash people: There is a legal definition of marriage and then there are ALL the different religious definitions. Religious has whatever restrictions your religion adheres to. Legal is a definition that has to accomodate all religions... and there are plenty of Christian denominations that perform gay marriages.

      Freedom of religion does not mean freedom for conservatives to impose their religion on others. You share the world with people who think differently than you. Get over it.

      June 26, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
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