Nine years ago, city officials here sued to strike down a state ban on same-sex marriage. It was the first government challenge to such a law, and it set in motion a legal chain reaction that gave rise to a momentous Supreme Court case to be argued next Tuesday. The move was also the beginning of a kind of civil disobedience movement by government officials. Around the nation, executive branch officials started to abandon their traditional role, which is to enforce the laws and defend them when they are challenged in court.
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