Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - Apache Junction, Arizona, USA


The country took a huge step forward today as the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled 4-3 that the state may not deny the right conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry. Massachusetts becomes the first state to fully legalize gay and lesbian Marriage. This makes Massachusetts the first state to fully legalize gay and lesbian marriage. Lawmakers have 180 days to come up with a solution that would allow gay couples to wed.

"The court appeared to be on the verge of announcing that same sex couples have the right to same-sex marriage but they took a tip toe back from the cliff and allowed the legislature to adopt something that is not marriage in name but in all other respects," Paul Martinek, editor of Lawyers Weekly USA said." This court is going one step further than Vermont. This court is saying marriage is required or the benefits of marriage are required. But they did put the ball back in the legislature's court," the court said. This ruling will immediately ignite a national political debate on gay rights with conservatives renewing their push for a US constitutional ban on gay marriage. State conservatives may initiate a move to change the Massachusetts constitution as well. Gay rights groups plan press a state by state battle for equal marriage rights across the country in wake of the Massachusetts decision.

Legal observers said the case took a significant step beyond the 1999 Vermont Supreme Court decision that led to civil unions in that state. This decision, lawyers said, rules that gay couples are entitled to all the rights of marriage and that creating a separate class of marriage - such as civil unions - would not be acceptable. The key difference between civil unions and marriage is that benefits from civil unions would stop at state borders while rights from marriage would extend across the country - giving gay couples equality under federal laws for taxes, health and retirement benefits, among other areas.

The majority opinion read, "Whether and whom to marry, how to express sexual intimacy, and whether and how to establish a family - these are among the most basic of every individual's liberty and due process rights. And central to personal freedom and security is the assurance that the laws will apply equally to persons in similar situations. Barred access to the protections, benefits and obligations of civil marriage, a person who enters into an intimate, exclusive union with another of the same sex is arbitrarily deprived of membership in one of our community's most rewarding and cherished institutions," Read the entire court record, including responses from all judges involved in the decision, here. (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader obtainable free here.

It seems America is changing for the better indeed! Thank you, Massachusetts!!

Should the Massachusetts Legislature move to allow same-sex marriages?
Vote here

©2003 Marcia Ellen "Happy" Beevre
# posted by Marcia Ellen @ 5:59 AM
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