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Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Massachusetts

Activity during 2008;
Predictions for the future

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Events during 2008:

bullet 2008-JUL: Proposal to repeal racist law: To date, about 11,000 same-sex couples have married in Massachusetts.

The state had a type of anti-miscegenation law on the books since 1913. It prohibited out of state couples from marrying in Massachusetts if they are unable to marry in their home state. The original intent of the law was racist: to prevent interracial couples from outside Massachusetts coming to the state, and getting married. Once the U.S. Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage across the U.S., this law had no further function, and was largely forgotten. However, when same-sex marriages (SSM) came to Massachusetts, the previous governor, Mitt Romney (R), insisted that the law be applied to same-sex couples. He warned that repealing the law would make Massachusetts the "Las Vegas of gay marriage."

With the election of Deval Patrick (D) as governor, and with the support of Democrat leaders in the state House and Senate, support to repeal the law gathered momentum. Another factor was the availability of SSM in California as of 2008-MAY. Same-sex couples who cannot marry in their home state were able go to California to be married.

Marc Solomon, executive director of MassEquality, a pro- marriage equality group, said: "There's strong support in the Legislature for eliminating this last vestige of state discrimination in the marriage laws against same-sex couples."

Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, a conservative Christian group that supports special marriage rights for heterosexual couples, said that the Massachusetts law is in sync with federal constitutional protections guaranteeing individual states the right to define marriage. He said: "It is an issue of one state honoring the rights of other states. ... The green light has been given to try to export this radical social experiment from coast to coast."

Governor Patrick said that the 1913 law has "... outlived its usefulness. ...It seems to have derived at a time when lawful discrimination based on race was at large here in the commonwealth and elsewhere." 5

Some advocates for SSM noted that if the racist law is repealed, out of state same-sex couples would get married in Massachusetts, return home, and launch court cases in their states of origin to have their rights recognized. The advocates are concerned that such attempts would mainly fail and could establish court precedents against SSM that could take years to overcome.

bullet 2008-JUL-15: Senate repeals racist law: The state Senate passed bill S-800 that would repeal the 1913 anti-miscegenation law. It was passed on a voice vote with no objections. This is a common technique used for sensitive bills because none of the Senators' personal votes are recorded.
bullet State Senator Mark Montigny, (D-New Bedford) said: "There are very few laws on the books that I can say that I'm ashamed that they're on the books. ... This is a very simple law, contrived in shame, and it exists in shame and we ought to wipe it off the books."
bullet Senator Harriette Chandler, (D-Worcester) said: The 1913 law is a shadow, a terrible shadow. It represents a segregationist past that is best put to rest and put to rest quickly."
bullet Kris Mineau, president of Massachusetts Family Institute -- an agency that wants to ban SSM -- said: "The Massachusetts Senate has no right to infringe on the internal issues of how other states define marriage but that's exactly what they voted today to do."

OneNewsNow, a conservative information source, commented:

"Brian Camenker, president of the anti-SSM group MassResistance, is still somewhat shell-shocked by how the vote occurred. 'It's one thing to lose a vote, but it's certainly horrible the way they did it. It was cowardly. It was undemocratic. It was obscene the way it was handled,' he argues. Four lawmakers spoke briefly in favor of repealing the law and none spoke against the proposal. Then in less than one minute, says Camenker, the presiding officer called for a voice vote and announced that the repeal had passed."
" 'I've never seen anything like that,' Camenker exclaims. 'Nobody, obviously, nobody wanted their name in front of this. Nobody was willing to get up and say anything,' he continues. 'You know, somebody could have at least called for a roll call vote. But it cowardly as anything I've ever seen. This was completely choreographed by the gay movement,' Camenker concludes. He adds that calling the process 'sleazy doesn't even do it justice'."

The bill then proceeded to the state House where it faced stiffer opposition.

bullet 2008-JUL-29: The Massachusetts House voted 118 to 35 to repeal the law.
bullet 2008-JUL-31: Governor Deval Patrick signed the bill, thus repealing the racist law. Supporters of the repeal pointed out that a state study estimates about 30,000 same-sex out-of-state couples will come to Massachusetts to marry over the next three years. This will create 330 jobs and boost the state's economy by $111 million.

Governor Patrick referred to the five years that have passed since Massachusetts made marriage available to the state's same-sex couples. He said:

"In five years now, the sky has not fallen, the earth has not opened to swallow us all up, and more to the point, thousands and thousands of good people -- contributing members of our society -- are able to make free decisions about their personal future, and we ought to seek to affirm that every chance we can,"

His 18-year-old daughter recently revealed that she is a lesbian.

The Star-Tribune in Minneapolis, MN, reported how Joy Spring of Middletown, NY will be affected by the repeal of the law. She was scheduled to marry her partner of seven years, Carla Barbano, on AUG-01. Spring was concerned about their 11-year-old daughter, saying:

"We're being recognized as a married couple. ... It's extremely important. If something happened to one of us she'd always be taken care of."

Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute -- a group that opposes marriage equality -- said:

"This is a clarion call for the rest of the nation on the dangers of this radical social experiment, and also the essential need for a federal marriage amendment to clearly define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. ...Same-sex marriage is a social experiment, and it certainly will have an impact on the culture, particularly the children, where we already see that in Massachusetts, children are being educated on the efficacy of same-sex marriage and the irrelevance of fatherhood and motherhood." 7

One News Now, a conservative Christian news source, posted an article about the Senate's approval of the bill's repeal and invited comments from their site visitors. The first eight comments posted were:
bullet "Cowardly is right on the money. There are three obvious reasons 1.the presiding officer called for a voice vote and announced that the repeal had passed 2. Nobody, obviously, nobody wanted their name in front of this. 3. You know, somebody could have at least called for a roll call vote. Those three reasons say it all nobody wanted to even have their name associated with it. The terms Camenker used fit it perfectly. You are either for Jesus Christ or you are against him, pro-life or pro-abortion, for traditional marriage or for gay counterfeit marriage."
bullet " 'As for characterizing homosexuals as the good guys, God will have the final say on that one and I know I wouldn't want to be in their shoes.' Speaking personally, I don't think I would want to be in yours, either."
bullet "This law was originally used to keep interracial couples from marrying. It's about time it got repealed... equal rights for everyone!"
bullet "How is it cowardly? No one had anything to say against it. Unless Camenker has proof that at least one senator wanted to speak against it but was afraid, then this is a ridiculous charge."
bullet "State sanctioning of marriage has to stop! The State is twisting the meaning of marriage to further political ends and promote social engineering towards a godless society. Marriage belongs to God and to the Church. We need to take it back."
bullet "Massachusetts has degenerated into one of the worst states in the union. I will be staying far away from it. Homosexuality is an abomination to God, and common sense and observation tells one that it's a disease-ridden, death-dealing addiction---the majority of homosexuals having hundreds, or even thousands of sexual 'partners,' despite some of them being 'married'."
bullet "If you really want to talk about sleazy, let's talk about how Arizona Republicans violated their own rules and the rules of procedure in the Senate to jam a marriage amendment down the throats of a state that already voted AGAINST the amendment. If Massachusetts wants to change its marriage laws, good for them."
bullet "'Sleezy' seems like a bit of the pot calling the kettle black, doesn't it? Those MA state senators did the right thing for fairness for all. This is significant because it means that US gay marriages no longer are held by the thread of what will happen with the proposed gay marriage ban on the ballot in California. At present they can marry in CA but if the proposed Constitutional Amendment to ban their marriages passes, they would be back to square one. Another win for the good guys."

We have corrected grammar and spelling errors in the above postings.

Our former predictions for the future:

Our previous predictions turned out to be without merit, at least until 2012, when religious and social conservatives have the next opportunity to have the voters of Massachusetts overturn marriage equality in their state.

We normally keep our opinions and our predictions to ourselves. However, we made an exception in mid-2005 by writing the following:

We suspect that the court victory for same-sex marriages (SSM) is liable to be short-lived in Massachusetts. Since the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that the legislators must vote, it seems inevitable that an amendment to terminate SSM will be placed on the 2008 ballot.

Public opinion polls show that more adults in the state currently favor SSM than oppose it. However, such numbers do not tell the whole story. A very large percentage of those opposed to SSM feel very strongly against recognizing same-sex relationships in any way. A large percentage of those who favor SSM are probably lukewarm in their support, because it doesn't directly impact their life. Public opinion polls often do not reflect subsequent voter action. Constitutional amendments are decided only by those persons who are sufficiently motivated to actually make the effort to vote. Probably a large percentage of those opposed to SSM would actually vote to limit marriage to one man and one woman. Many who favor SSM will not bother to vote.

However, further analysis of public opinion polls shows a massive opinion shift with age. Those under 35 are typically very much in favor of SSM; those over 50 are generally strongly opposed. In time, the popular opinion will shift as advanced age takes its toll. Eventually -- perhaps decades into this century -- the legislature will probably respond to this change and restore marriage equality the state constitution, thus allowing all loving committed couples in Massachusetts to marry once more.

One factor that is not being actively raised in this debate is whether a group of citizens (e.g. same-sex couples and their children) can be deprived of a fundamental human right (e.g. the right to marry the person that they love and have made a commitment to) as a result of one in four senators and representatives voting in favor of a plebiscite on two occasions, followed by bare majority vote of Massachusetts adults. If that happens, then any group that the majority considers unpopular could be deprived of fundamental human rights (e.g. non-Christians might be deprived of religious freedom; Atheists and Agnostics certainly could; disabled people might be deprived other rights; even females could have rights removed.) A scary thought for anyone who is a member of any minority -- and that includes all of us.


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

  1. "Legislature votes on marriage; Victory!," Massachusetts Family Institute, 2007-JAN/FEB.
  2. Jennifer Mesko, "Massachusetts Lawmakers Silence Voters on Marriage," Focus on the Family Action, 2007-JUN-14, at:
  3. "Thank you Massachusetts!," Mass Equality, 2007-JUN-14, at:
  4. "GLAD Cheers Defeat of Anti-Gay, Anti-Marriage Equality Measure," Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), 2007-JUN-14, at: This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from: 
  5. "Mass. lawmakers revisit out-of-state nuptial ban ," Associated Press, 2008-JUL-14, at:
  6. "Senate passes repeal of 1913 marriage law," The Boston Globe, 2008-JUL-15, at:
  7. Glen Johnson, "Mass. repeals 1913 law that had blocked out-of-state gay couples from marrying there," Associated Press, 2008-JUL-31, at:

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

Copyright 2004 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2004-MAY
Latest update: 2009-MAY-09
Author: B.A. Robinson

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