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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
First state
Constitutional convention (ConCon) scheduled

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Sponsored link.


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Quotations:

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.

bullet"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.
bullet"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
bullet"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
bullet"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

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Events from 2004-MAY-17 to 2005-AUG:

bullet2004-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.
bullet2004-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 Philadelphia)"

"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:

bulletLeaders 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.
bulletBrave 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.
bulletClergy 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.
bulletThe 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."
bulletNon-gay allies who spoke up boldly and courageously on our behalf.
bulletEach 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.
bulletAnd 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 week
to commemorate and celebrate this historic occasion: Calendar of Events http://EqualMarriage.org/mayevents.php

As always, your support for the work that we do is greatly appreciated.    http://EqualMarriage.org/give.proclaim.php"

"Let Freedom Ring!"

bullet2004-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:

"...today--by 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 relationships.

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 civilization.

We must pass the Federal Marriage Amendment--and fast. Far more than marriage hangs in the balance."

bullet2004-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
bulletWeek 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
bullet2004-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
bullet2004-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

bullet2004-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
bullet2004-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
bullet2005-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.
bullet2005-JUN: Citizen's 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.

bullet2005-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.

bullet2005-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
bullet2005-AUG-26: 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:
bullet104 plan to vote against the amendment, either because they support same-sex marriage, or oppose civil unions;
bullet19 say they will support it
bullet3 are undecided.
bullet74 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.
bulletSome 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.
bulletSome 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 married.

Some comments from AUG-26 to SEP-12:
bulletRepresentative 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."
bulletDemocrat 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 marriages."
bulletDemocrat 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."
bulletJosh 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."
bulletCarrie Evans, state legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign said: "I think it's significant that since the [2004] 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

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References:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. R.A. Mohler, "A Day That Will Live in Infamy--May 17 in Massachusetts," 2004-MAY-17, at: http://www.crosswalk.com/
  2. "12 Reasons Same-Sex Marriage will Ruin Society," GatorGSA, at: http://grove.ufl.edu
  3. "Protection of Marriage Update," E-Alert 5/26/04, Massachusetts Family Institute, news release.
  4. Citizen Link, Focus on the Family, 2004-MAY-30.
  5. Jay Lindsay, "Northeast gays seek Massachusetts marriage right," Associated Press, 2004-JUL-13, at: http://www.kansascity.com/
  6. "Supremes refuse to hear MA marriage case," E-Alert, Massachusetts Family Institute, 2004-DEC-3.
  7. Keith Peters, "Massachusetts Marriage Ruling Challenged," Focus on the Family, 2005-FEB-14, at: http://www.family.org/
  8. "Language for New Anti-Gay Ballot Measure to be Filed," Newsletter, Freedom to Marry Coalition of Massachusetts, 2005-AUG-02.
  9. Steve LeBlanc & Theo Emery, "Same-sex marriage may stay legal in Mass.," Associated Press, 2005-SEP-12, at: http://news.yahoo.com/
  10. Massachusetts Family Institute home page, as of 2005-SEP-13, at: http://www.mafamily.org/

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Site navigation: Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Massachusetts > here

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Copyright 2004 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2004-MAY
Latest update: 2007-MAR-02
Author: B.A. Robinson

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