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#72222 - 02/04/04 04:02 PM Mass. Legalizes Gay Marriage
markgreyblue Offline

Registered: 12/19/03
Posts: 5400
Loc: Pasadena, CA
Updated: 01:10 PM EST
State Court Says Same-Sex Couples Entitled to Marry
Massachusetts Lawmakers to Consider Changing Constitution to Ban Gay Marriages

BOSTON (Feb. 4) -- The Massachusetts high court ruled Wednesday that only full, equal marriage rights for gay couples - rather than civil unions - are constitutional, clearing the way for the nation's first same-sex marriages in the state as early as May.

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''The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal,'' the four justices who ruled in favor of gay marriage wrote in the advisory opinion requested by the state Senate.

After seven gay couples sued in 2001, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in November that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry, and gave the Legislature six months to change state laws to make it happen.

But the vague wording of the ruling left lawmakers - and advocates on both sides - uncertain if Vermont-style civil unions would satisfy the court's decision.

The Massachusetts court said any civil unions bill that falls short of marriage would establish an ''unconstitutional, inferior, and discriminatory status for same-sex couples.''

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Same-Sex Marriage Laws by State

The state Senate asked for more guidance from the court, whose advisory opinion was made public Wednesday morning when it was read into the Senate record.

The much-anticipated opinion sets the stage for next Wednesday's constitutional convention, where the Legislature will consider an amendment that would legally define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Without the opinion, Senate President Robert Travaglini had said the vote would be delayed.

The soonest a constitutional amendment could end up on the ballot would be 2006, meaning that until then the high court's decision will be Massachusetts law no matter what is decided at the constitutional convention.

''We've heard from the court, but not from the people,'' Gov. Mitt Romney said in a statement. ''The people of Massachusetts should not be excluded from a decision as fundamental to our society as the definition of marriage.''

Travaglini said he wanted time to talk with fellow senators before deciding what to do next.

You asked: How will the debate over same-sex marriage affect this presidential campaign?

''I want to have everyone stay in an objective and calm state as we plan and define what's the appropriate way to proceed,'' Travaglini said.

Conservative leaders said they were not surprised by the advisory opinion, and vowed to redouble their efforts to pass the constitutional amendment.

Mary Bonauto, an attorney who represented the seven couples who filed the lawsuit, said she anticipated a fierce battle, saying that ''no matter what you think about the court's decision, it's always wrong to change the constitution to write discrimination into it.''

When it was issued in November, the 4-3 ruling set off a firestorm of protest across the country among politicians, religious leaders and others opposed to providing landmark rights for gay couples to marry.

President Bush immediately denounced the decision and vowed to pursue legislation to protect the traditional definition of marriage. Church leaders in the heavily Roman Catholic state also pressed their parishioners to oppose efforts to allow gays to marry.

And legislators were prepared to vote on a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would seek to make the court's ruling moot by defining as marriage as a union between one man and one woman - thus expressly making same-sex marriages illegal in Massachusetts.

What the case represented, both sides agree, was a significant new milestone in a year that has seen broad new recognitions of gay rights in America, Canada and abroad, including a June U.S. Supreme Court decision striking a Texas ban on gay sex.

Legal experts, however, said that the long-awaited decision, while clearly stating that it is unconstitutional to bar gay couples from marriage, gave ambiguous instructions to the state Legislature.

Lawmakers remained uncertain if civil unions went far enough to live up to the court's ruling - or if actual marriages were required.

When a similar decision was issued in Vermont in 1999, the court told the Legislature that it could allow gay couples to marry or create a parallel institution that conveys all the state rights and benefits of marriage. The Legislature chose the second route, leading to the approval of civil unions in that state.

The Massachusetts decision made no mention of an alternative solution, but instead pointed to a recent decision in Ontario, Canada, that changed the common law definition of marriage to include same-sex couples and led to the issuance of marriage licenses there.

The state ''has failed to identify any constitutionally adequate reason for denying civil marriage to same-sex couples,'' the court wrote. ''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.''

The Massachusetts case began in 2001, when the seven gay couples went to their city and town halls to obtain marriage licenses. All were denied, leading them to sue the state Department of Public Health, which administers the state's marriage laws.

A Suffolk Superior Court judge threw out the case in 2002, ruling that nothing in state law gives gay couples the right to marry. The couples immediately appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court, which heard arguments in March.

The plaintiffs argued that barring them from marrying a partner of the same sex denied them access to an intrinsic human experience and violated basic constitutional rights.

Over the past decade, Massachusetts' high court has expanded the legal parameters of family, ruling that same-sex couples can adopt children and devising child visitation right for a former partner of a lesbian.

Massachusetts has one of the highest concentrations of gay households in the country with at 1.3 percent of the total number of coupled households, according to the 2000 census. In California, 1.4 percent of the coupled households are occupied by same-sex partners. Vermont and New York also registered at 1.3 percent, while in Washington, D.C., the rate is 5.1 percent

02-04-04 12:47 EST

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

" not look outside yourself for the leader."
-wisdom of the hopi elders

"...the sign of a true leader is service..." - anonymous

#72223 - 02/04/04 09:44 PM Re: Mass. Legalizes Gay Marriage
MrDon Offline

Registered: 01/08/01
Posts: 957
Loc: Deltona, FL
I've already emailed the president and lawmakers about my view on all of this. I was nice in this email but very direct in how I felt and how I would vote in the upcoming election. I do not want any laws on the books that will further the discrimination against gays just to satisfy some fanatics! There is enough hate and discrimination already!


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#72224 - 02/05/04 11:13 AM Re: Mass. Legalizes Gay Marriage
JohanDoug Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/31/04
Posts: 1
Loc: Winnipeg, Mb.
Hi guys!
This message goes out in search of other gay male survivors who are single, alone and at times, experience a sense of exhile, in a way, from a cultural group obsessed with youth, muscles and sex.
I'm 59.......will be 60 this summer and I bought into the whole thing: bodies, muscles, sex, appearances, etc: all, so very shallow and meaningless. Peggy Lee used to croone: "Is that all there is? Is that all there is? ...."
It's kinda like: this is it? Now, I'm experiencing "AGEISM"......very prevalent in N.A. society.
I'm not sure if my attitude is due to being a survivor? (I guess my inner little boy was valued and given lots of attention for sex).
I suppose underlying it all too is the fact that I'm still terribly fearful about intimacy, loving, and trusting a man who cares for me, loves and accepts me, just the way I am, abuse and all. I believe being the lover/partner of an abuse survivor requires a special angel, in a sense since we're very complex people. I once had such an angel, who put up with my extreme mood swings, crying spells, and need to isolate.
With him, my "walls" came down I experienced genuine love, caring and nurturing.
I'd appreciate dialogue with other survivors gay or otherwise on these issues.

#72225 - 02/05/04 12:21 PM Re: Mass. Legalizes Gay Marriage
Brayton Offline

Registered: 10/21/03
Posts: 696
Loc: Minneapolis
Bush is also for state's rights.

His spokesman talks to reporters about "activist" judges.

He seems to support an amendment to the constitution which is probably more to the point because rather than being "activist" and against the "will of the people," they are enforcing the provisions of the constitution concerning equal treatment for all.

So there are mixed messages coming out of the White House. Sounds like election year stuff to me, pandering to as broad a base as possible. Plenty of gay people will end up voting for him, you know. I don't plan to primarily because I oppose his approaches to foreign relations and domestic human services policy.

Would such an amendment really be approved by two-thirds of the states?

All this stuff should really up the visibility of this issue. I'm sorry that "marriage" came to the forefront instead of things like employment discrimination.

My own point of view is that marriage is basically a corrupt heterosexual institution. I don't want to have anything personally to do with emulating it. I'm against the movement to outlaw gay marriage however because I see it as a front for bigotry plain and simple.

Sometimes, things just won't work the way we want them to.

#72226 - 02/05/04 02:15 PM Re: Mass. Legalizes Gay Marriage
Stephen_5 Offline
BoD Emeritus
Registered: 09/12/00
Posts: 667
Loc: Northern California Foothills
It's my take on this that marriage is a religious institution and every religion should be able to set their own rule as to who it applies to. The rights and privileges granted to married people by the states and federal government is another thing. To not allow members of a certain class of people access to these same rights and privileges is discrimination pure and simple. There is no reason in my mind why domestic unions should not be recognized on a governmental level and given the same rights and privileges as religious unions.

For the president to make this pronouncement in the state of the union address in an election year is just another way to divide and conquer, to make this an issue is ridiculous. But it's far easier to enflame the media with something like this than dealing with real issues that affect millions of citizens everyday.

I'll get off my soapbox now.


I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.
Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)

#72227 - 02/05/04 04:44 PM Re: Mass. Legalizes Gay Marriage
markgreyblue Offline

Registered: 12/19/03
Posts: 5400
Loc: Pasadena, CA
stephe_5 i hope you never get off the soapbox!
i concur with your opinion - while also respectfully acknowledging Braytons- I stand on the side of marriage as a legal state allowing for priveledges due the hetero - counter parts -
-regardless of the psycho-cultural implications that may be offensive to some - i think the legal sense of the term and the basic human right implications are hugely and long over due for
a civilized society - i think - if Bush is out of the white house soon - this ruling will stick -

" not look outside yourself for the leader."
-wisdom of the hopi elders

"...the sign of a true leader is service..." - anonymous


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