SAME-SEX MARRIAGE (SSM) IN MASSACHUSETTS:
Activity from 2004-MAY-17 to 2005-AUG
Marriage licenses available to same-sex resident couples
U.S. Supreme Court refuses to review case
Miscegenation law enforced
Constitutional convention (ConCon) scheduled
There are some very different comments in the media about the availability of same-sex
marriage licenses in Massachusetts. Some think
that 2004-MAY-17 will go down in history like the date in the mid 19th
century when all African-Americans were allowed to marry, and the date in 1967
when inter-racial couples were allowed to marry. Others liken it to the
attack on Pearl Harbor on 1941-DEC-7 and the attack on New York and
Washington on 2001-SEP-11.
||"Same-sex couples can now share much more fully in the promise of
our country, as laid out in the Declaration of Independence: the opportunity
to exercise the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of
happiness." News release from the Freedom to Marry Coalition.
||"If this [court] decision stands, marriage will never be the same
again. Humanity's most venerable and cherished institution has been
redefined by a secular elite in the name of liberation--and it will
inevitably be destroyed in the process." R. Albert Mohler 1
||"Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way
that hanging around tall people makes you tall." One of "12 reasons
same-sex marriage will ruin society," a satirical list. 2
||"The State of Massachusetts--ruled by a tiny elite of activist
judges and encouraged by a brigade of renegade religious leaders--will
now break the contract that would receive marriage from our ancestors
and pass it on intact to our children and to our children's children."
Russell Kirk. 1
Events from 2004-MAY-17 to 2005-AUG:
||2004-MAY-17: Marriage licenses issued: At 12:01 AM ET, same
sex couples were permitted to obtain marriage licenses in a few
locations in Massachusetts. A few hours later, at the time that
marriage bureaus in city halls opened for business, all same-sex couples
were able to purchase licenses. By coincidence, this is the 50th
anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 decision Brown v.
Board of Education which made equalized educational opportunities
for students of all races.
||2004-MAY-17: Email from the Freedom to Marry Coalition:
Their board of directors and staff sent the following message to
its mailing list subscribers:
"Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land unto all the inhabitants
thereof! (Leviticus 25:10; inscribed on the Liberty Bell in
"At 12:01 a.m. this morning, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and
our nation began a new era of justice and equality. Same-sex couples
can now share much more fully in the promise of our country, as laid out
in the Declaration of Independence: the opportunity to exercise the
inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
"At this historic milestone, we pause to pay tribute to those who
paved the way for us to reach this point:
||Leaders of other civil rights movements-including those fighting for
equality for African-Americans, as we also celebrate today the Fiftieth
Anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation
case-who inspired us to accept nothing less than full equality.
||Brave pioneers who came out of the closet when it was dangerous to do
so-when police were rounding up gay people and throwing them in jail-and
who nevertheless took stands for personal dignity and equality for all
LGBT people and made it much easier for all of us.
||Clergy who have challenged hundreds of years of discrimination within
their denominations and who have made their places of worship safe and
welcoming for same-sex couples, and who have bravely and publicly voiced
support for full equal civil marriage rights.
||The justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court who recognized
that the promise of liberty and equality contained in the Constitution
of the Commonwealth extends to same-sex couples, just as it extends to
all citizens of Massachusetts. In the words of Margaret Marshall,
Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court: 'The
Massachusetts Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all
individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens."
||Non-gay allies who spoke up boldly and courageously on our behalf.
||Each and every one of you. You told your personal stories to your
friends, family members, and legislators; you wrote letters and
testimony; and you stood up for equality and dignity in the face of a
society that often has been oppressive towards us and our families.
||And so many others."
"One of the great pioneers for equality for gays and lesbians, former
San Francisco selectman Harvey Milk, was famous for saying 'You gotta
give 'em hope.' There is little doubt that Harvey Milk would be proud
today. This historic milestone will give hope to millions of lesbian,
gay, bisexual, and transgender people living throughout the world."
"In the words of John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts,
'We shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us'."
"Please take part in some of the events taking place over the next
to commemorate and celebrate this historic occasion: Calendar of Events
As always, your support for the work that we do is greatly
"Let Freedom Ring!"
||2004-MAY-17: Albert Mohler gives negative view titled: "Moral
Infamy:" R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern
Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and host of
the Albert Mohler Program. He commented on the significance of MAY-17:
the unilateral decision of activist judges--the state of Massachusetts
has been forced to legally recognize same-sex marriages. This is a day
that will live in moral infamy. Civilization itself has been attacked by
forces that would redefine marriage, normalize homosexuality and
transform our understanding of family, gender, parenthood and human
The attacks on Pearl Harbor, New York, and Washington awakened the
nation to peril and called citizens to action. Americans must awaken
once again--to the fact that an out-of-control judiciary has forced its
will upon us and has redefined the fundamental unit of human
We must pass the Federal Marriage Amendment--and fast. Far more than
marriage hangs in the balance."
||2004-MAY-17: Who is performing marriages in Massachusetts?:
Large numbers of congregations affiliated with the Unitarian
Universalist Association will be marrying same-sex couples this week in
the state. Some are organizing special celebrations. The three bishops
of the Episcopal Church, USA have forbidden priests in the state to
marry same-sex couples in order to prevent increased strain on the
denomination which is still in a state of high conflict over the
consecration of an openly gay bishop. However, Rev. Carter Heyward, a
professor at the Episcopal divinity School in Cambridge MA announced
plans to marry couples in spite of the ban. She was one of the 11 women
who were irregularly ordained in 1974 when the Episcopal Church was
still a sexist organization and refused to ordain women. She told
The Boston Globe that her rebellion against the bishops was a form
of "constructive disobedience." 1
||Week of 2004-MAY-23: Attempt to remove judge: Representatives
Phil Travis (D) -- one of the Legislature's most vocal opponents of
same-sex marriage, Mark Carron (D), and James Miceli (D), have filed a
bill of address to remove Margaret Marshall, the chief justice of
the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court from office. She wrote
the majority opinion in 2003-NOV which legalized same-sex marriage in
Massachusetts. A bill of address is a provision in the state
constitutional that gives the Legislature a method of removing a judge
without an impeachment trial. A simple majority in both houses of the
Legislature, with the consent of the Governor, and the agreement of the
Governor's Council are needed to remove a judge. 3
||2004-MAY-27: Governor enforces miscegenation law: Governor
Mitt Romney ordered his Attorney General to order town clerks in
Provincetown, Somerville, Springfield and Worchester MA to follow the
state's 1913 miscegenation law. It was passed almost a century ago to
handle inter-racial couples who could not marry in their own states
because of local racist laws. That law prevented them from coming to
Massachusetts, marrying, and then returning to their state of origin as
a married couple. 4
||2004-JUL-13: Same-sex couples attack
miscegenation law: Eight same-sex couples who came to
Massachusetts to marry have launched a lawsuit to have the state's 91
year old miscegenation law declared unconstitutional. The couples all
come from adjoining states: Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire,
Vermont, Maine and New York. Attorney Michele Granda presented their
case before Superior Court Judge Carol Ball. She claims that the statute
violates both the U.S. Constitution and Massachusetts law.
She said: "We're asking the court to tear
down the fence of discrimination that's been erected around (the
state's) borders." Assistant Attorney General Peter Sacks said that
the law protects the right of other states to define marriage as they
wish, and not allow their residents come to Massachusetts, get married,
and then return to their state of residence and ask that the marriage be
recognized. According to the Associated Press:
"Legal experts have
said the law was passed to prevent interracial couples from getting
married. But the attorney general has said there is no evidence that
lawmakers were motivated by race in passing the law. At any rate, the
law was ignored for decades before the high court cleared the way for
the nation's first state-sanctioned gay weddings to begin this spring,
Granda said." 5
||2004-NOV-29: U.S. Supreme Court
refuses to review case: The U.S. Supreme Court decided to not review the
decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
in Goodridge et al v. Department of Public Health. This is the
case that authorized SSM in the state. One citizen and
eleven legislators, who were represented by the conservative Christian legal
action group Liberty Council, had appealed
to the higher Court to reverse the decision. They argued that it violated the Guarantee Clause of the U.S.
Constitution. Kris Mineau, President of
the conservative Christian Massachusetts Family Institute, said, "The justices in the Goodridge
case blatantly usurped the authority of the legislature and of the people of
the Commonwealth." 6
||2004-FEB-14: Appeal to overturn Supreme
Judicial Court's 2003 ruling: The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
will hear an appeal -- perhaps during 2005-APR -- to reverse its 2003 ruling
which authorized same-sex marriage in the state. The appeal is based on a
clause in the state constitution that requires "all causes of marriage
are to be determined by the Legislature." Attorney Chester Darling of
Citizens for the Preservation of Constitutional Rights said "Ignoring
that mandate in the constitution four justices went ahead and radically
declared that marriage could occur between same-sex couples." Referring
to the upcoming referendum, Robert Muise of the Thomas More Law Center
said that the state should: "...stop the issuance of these marriage
licenses because in a year or two, when the vote will come to the people,
you're going to have people who were at one time married who will no longer
be married." 7
||2005-MAY-11: Constitutional Convention
convened: The Constitutional Convention convened at the state house. No
action was taken on the proposed constitutional amendment concerning SSM.
The next Convention will be held on AUG-24.
initiative petition submitted: The Massachusetts Family Institute
(MFI) submitted a petition that would amend the state constitution to define
marriage as a union of one man and one woman. It would deny recognition of
same-sex couples by not allowing them to marry. It would not prohibit the
legislature from authorizing a parallel system of civil unions. It would
allow same-sex married couples to remain married. The text reads:
"When recognizing marriages entered into
after the adoption of this amendment by the people, the Commonwealth and
its political subdivisions shall define marriage only as the union of
one man and one woman."
Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly has indicated that he will decide
whether to certify the ballot initiative by SEP-07.
2005-JUL-04: Canadian Senator cites Massachusetts study: Senator Jack Austin, the leader of the Government in the
Canadian Senate spoke in favor of bill C-38 which legalized SSM across
Canada when it was signed into law on 2006-JUL-20. . He said, in part:
"As I see it, apart from the religious connection, at the core of
opposition to equal rights to marriage, whether opposite sex or same
sex, is the belief that same-sex marriage is wrong because it will cause
harmful results to society. Senator St. Germain also made that argument.
However, what is lacking is any evidence to make that case. For example,
the U.S. state of Massachusetts has permitted
same-sex marriage for a few years now. The search by opponents of
same-sex marriage has produced no statistics that there has been any
effect on the lives of opposite-sex marriage persons or their children.
Opposite-sex marriages have continued and they raise families at the
same statistical rate as before. Nor has the divorce rate shown any
change. As one commentator noted, the only negative to be found by the
study as a result of same sex-marriage being legalized was the added
cost of buying a few more wedding gifts."
Of course, if SSM does have a negative effect on opposite-sex marriage, then
it may be so small that it is not readily apparent, even after a thorough
search. Alternatively, negative effects may not appear at once; they may take years to develop.
||2005-AUG-03: Text of the constitutional amendment petition due:
Referring to the citizens' initiative petition, the Freedom to
Marry Coalition of Massachusetts states: "...the language for the new anti-gay
marriage amendment will be due with the Secretary of State and signature
gathering will begin in the Fall. This new amendment, if approved by 25% of the
legislature in two consecutive constitutional conventions, will be placed on
the November 2008 ballot. On [2005-]August 24th, the legislature will set the date
for the constitutional convention for the pending amendment that was approved in
the March constitutional convention. The battle rages unabated throughout the
Summer." 8 |
Constitutional convention scheduled: Last year, during 2004-MAR, state
legislators held the first constitutional
convention amend the state constitution on the same-sex marriage issue.
State legislators from both houses voted in favor of an amendment which
would ban same-sex marriage, forcibly divorce the thousands of same-sex
married couples, and create a system of civil unions similar to Vermont. It
passed by a vote of 105-92. However, under state law, any amendment to the
constitution must be passed by two successive constitutional conventions.|
State lawmakers from the House and Senate are scheduled to meet on SEP-14
for the second constitutional convention. A poll by the Associated
Press between SEP-06 and 09 has shown that:
||104 plan to vote against the amendment,
either because they support same-sex marriage, or oppose civil unions;
||19 say they will support it
||3 are undecided.
||74 could not be reached or did not respond
to the question.
To pass, the amendment must be approved by at
least 101 legislators. Its future is doubtful.
Writers for the Associated Press suggest that: "A fragile
coalition of lawmakers cobbled together to support an anti-gay marriage
amendment is falling apart, virtually assuring that same-sex marriage will
for now remain legal in Massachusetts..." The wording of the language
seems to be the cause of its potential failure.
||Some of those opposed to equality in marriage are offended because
it recognizes the legitimacy of same-sex relationships. It also creates
a system of civil unions so that such couples can receive all of the
benefits and obligations that opposite-sex married couples have
automatically received since the state was founded.
||Some of those who support same-sex marriage were alienated because
the amendment would terminate the right of same-sex couples to marry,
and forcibly divorce the thousands of same-sex couples who have already
Some comments from AUG-26 to SEP-12:
||Representative James Brendan Leary (D) said: "It's a dangerous
precedent to take away rights that have been granted by the court for an
identifiable group of people."
||Democrat Rep. Anne M. Gobi voted for the amendment in 2004 but plans
to vote against it this time. She said: "I haven't talked to any
married heterosexual couples that have felt threatened by same-sex
||Democrat Rep. James H. Fagan (D) plans to vote for the amendment. He
feels that the matter should be decided by the voters. He said: "I
support their right to vote. I would suggest that people do not vote to
amend our constitution."
||Josh Friedes, advocacy director for Equality Massachusetts,
said: "Any attempt to replace marriage with civil unions is wholly
unacceptable...."[The amendment] passed last session by a vote of
105-92. It will be voted on again a second time, and it is our intention
to change enough votes to defeat it then."
||Carrie Evans, state legislative director for the Human Rights
Campaign said: "I think it's significant that since the  vote
we've had some legislators defect.....We've seen marriage being a
reality for more than a year. Those marriages aren't affecting the
heterosexual marriages, and the lawmakers are seeing the normalcy of all
this. I think legislators believe there are more important things going
on in their state." 9,10
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
R.A. Mohler, "A Day That Will Live in Infamy--May 17 in
Massachusetts," 2004-MAY-17, at:
"12 Reasons Same-Sex Marriage will Ruin Society," GatorGSA,
- "Protection of Marriage Update," E-Alert 5/26/04,
Massachusetts Family Institute, news release.
- Citizen Link, Focus on the Family, 2004-MAY-30.
Jay Lindsay, "Northeast gays seek Massachusetts marriage right,"
Associated Press, 2004-JUL-13, at:
- "Supremes refuse to hear MA marriage case," E-Alert, Massachusetts
Family Institute, 2004-DEC-3.
Keith Peters, "Massachusetts Marriage Ruling Challenged," Focus on
the Family, 2005-FEB-14, at:
- "Language for New Anti-Gay Ballot Measure to be Filed," Newsletter,
Freedom to Marry Coalition of Massachusetts, 2005-AUG-02.
Steve LeBlanc & Theo Emery, "Same-sex marriage may stay legal in
Associated Press, 2005-SEP-12, at:
Massachusetts Family Institute home page, as of 2005-SEP-13, at:
Copyright © 2004 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2004-MAY
Latest update: 2007-MAR-02
Author: B.A. Robinson