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Ahead of the curve on marriage equality, Mass. waits for rest of nation to catch up

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who faced off against former Sen.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who faced off against former Sen. Scott Brown for the late Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in 2010, said she is "cautiously optimistic" that the Supreme Court will prevail on the side of gay rights this week, as it hears arguments over California's Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.

“I’m hopeful that these judges will want to be on the right side of history," Coakley said on Jansing & Co. Tuesday. "I think that arc is moving only in one direction.”

Coakley filed amicus briefs a few weeks ago opposing Prop 8 and DOMA as part of a multi-state effort to influence the court's decision. Her home state of Massachusetts is the only state to challenge the Defense of Marriage Act and win.

"Our amicus brief points out exactly why it’s so unfair not to allow for gay marriage, that the sanctity of marriage, the institution, the rights and responsibilities that help every family, including children, provide the kind of stability that we say is so important in marriage," Coakley told host Chris Jansing.

Massachusetts performed the first legal same-sex marriage in 2004, after the state Supreme Court found an existing ban on gay marriage unconstitutional in November 2003. While Massachusetts broke ground in gay rights nationally, the rest of the country has been catching up at an an accelerated pace, according to recent polling.

“Look at anybody under 30, for instance, who can’t understand why this is before the Supreme Court. Opposition to this is aging out, and very quickly. It’s astounding how quickly public opinion has changed on this. And I think that the justices will understand that," Coakley said.