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!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE (SSM) IN MASSACHUSETTS:

Activity from 2005-SEP to 2006-DEC

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Sponsored link.

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Events from 2004-SEP to now:

bullet2005-SEP-07: Attorney General approves petition: Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly approved the wording of the petition submitted by the Coalition for Marriage & Family. If it receives a sufficient number of signatures, and is approved by 25% of the legislature, it will be placed on the 2008-NOV ballot to be voted upon by the public. The signature gathering campaign will begin on SEP-21 and conclude on NOV-23. 65,825 registered voters must sign the petition in order to place the issue before the voters in 2008.
bullet2005-SEP-08: GLAD to file a lawsuit opposing petition: Lee Swislow, Executive Director of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) is preparing to sue the Attorney General because he certified a ballot measure to prevent same-sex marriages in the state. He said: "GLAD will file a lawsuit challenging the Attorney General's decision....No matter what, we will continue our vigilance in protecting and advancing marriage equality, in Massachusetts and across New England." Marty Rouse of Massachusetts Equality said: "We think that [Reilly] has now opened a public debate that could last three long years. It would be a long, expensive, and brutal battle. It will be toxic for the state to have this debate." Attorney General Tom Reilly (D) is a candidate for governor, but states that his decision is not motivated by his political ambitions. 1
bullet2005-SEP-14: Amendment to constitution defeated: As expected, the constitutional amendment was defeated. The vote was 157 to 39, with apparently 4 abstentions. The marriages of over 6,500 same-sex couples will remain intact; the state will not forcibly divorce them. Same-sex couples will continue to have marriage equality in the state until at least 2008-NOV when the initiative petition will probably be voted upon by the public. 2
bullet2005-DEC-07: 170,000 marriage amendment signatures collected. The Massachusetts Family Institute reported that:

"VoteOnMarriage.org announced today the completion of the most successful ballot initiative campaign in Massachusetts history with the collection of 170,000 signatures. This overwhelming citizen response sends a resounding message to the lawmakers and activists who want to silence the voice of the people and deny them a vote on marriage."

Only 65,825 signatures are required to start the process of altering the state constitution so that the 6,000 or so same-sex married couples will be forcibly divorced against their will, and marriage will once more be a special right enjoyed only by opposite-sex couples. If the proposed amendment receives 50 votes in two successive legislatures, then it will be placed on the 2008 ballot. 3

bullet2005-DEC-08: Boston Globe has public opinion survey: The Boston Globe is conducting a survey of public opinion via the Internet. The question is:  "Do you think a question on banning gay marriage should be on the state ballot?" As of 2005-DEC-08, they received 3,822 votes.
bullet50.4% said No -- the state courts have spoken on the subject.
bullet49.8% said Yes. The proponents [of the initiative petition] have gathered enough signature and are following the process. 4

This poll is probably not particularly accurate. It is more a measure of which side is able to mobilize their followers to vote than it is an accurate estimate of true public opinion. If it does happen to be accurate, then same-sex marriage in Massachusetts is probably doomed. Those who want to deny same-sex couples the right to marry are probably considerably more motivated, on average, than those who would prefer that all loving, committed couples should have the right to marry. So a much larger percentage of people who are against SSM will vote. The actual vote will not reflect the wishes of the public, only the wishes of those energized sufficiently to vote.

bullet2006-MAR-30: Court finds racist law constitutional: The Supreme Judicial Court -- Massachusetts' highest court -- ruled that the state's 1913 miscegenation law is constitutional. It was intended to prevent mixed-race couples from coming to Massachusetts, marrying, and then returning to their state of origin as a married couple. The law had essentially died decades ago, but has since been revived to prevent out-of-state couples from coming to Massachusetts and marrying there. Same-sex couples from Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont had initiated the case. 5
bullet2006: RCFM invites Catholics to sign petition: The Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry (RCFM) has written a statement in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples. They invite Catholics in Massachusetts to sign the petition online. It says, in part:

"...we believe that the right of every citizen to practice freedom of religion is based on the principle of respect for the dignity of each individual. Without that guarantee, the danger of one religious tradition or doctrine dominating another threatens all and protects none. Making the equality of citizens not merely an ideal but a living truth, we wish to affirm the Goodridge decision and the granting of civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples

They base their belief on the principle of separation of church and state, their memory of oppression of fellow Catholics in the past, and Catholic teaching on social justice. They note that: "...same-sex civil marriage does not in any way coerce any religious faith or tradition to change its beliefs or doctrine." They "...urge the Church to treat with respect in both word and deed same-sex couples who have entered into civil marriages." The full text is available at http://www.rcfm.org/ where it is available for signing.

bullet2006-JUN-28: Another constitutional amendment to ban SSM: The state legislature is scheduled to vote again on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Governor Mitt Romney and Roman Catholic Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley held a joint news conference, calling on the legislature to pass the amendment. Cardinal O'Malley expressed his belief that children should be raised by a mother and a father. He said:

"We urge that the legislators let everyone's voice be heard...Let the people vote....This is neither a Catholic nor a sectarian issue. This is a human issue....To redefine marriage as merely an arrangement among adults undermines the family and will have serious consequences in our future."

Marc Solomon, campaign director for the group MassEquality, said that civil rights matters do not belong on the ballot.

To move forward, the House and Senate will have to pass the amendment at the 2006-JUL-12 Constitutional Convention. This would have to be followed by approval at a similar convention during the 2007-2008 legislative session. Advocates for marriage equality hope to prevent the amendment from passing. 6

The vote scheduled for JUL-12 was postponed until 2006-NOV-9. It will take place after the next state elections.

bullet2006-SEP-29: Judge allows Rhode Island same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses: On 2006-SEP-29, Massachusetts’ Superior Court Judge Thomas Connolly ruled that the state of Rhode Island does not have a constitutional amendment, legislature or judicial ruling that banns same-sex marriage. He ruled in favor of granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples from Rhode Island. His ruling stated, in part:

"Upon consideration of the parties’ oral arguments and submitted memoranda, this court determines that same-sex marriage is not prohibited in Rhode Island."

Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch issued a statement on the same day:

"This ruling does not authorize same-sex marriages in Rhode Island, and it does not mean that Rhode Island will recognize a same-sex marriage performed in Massachusetts. ... As I have consistently explained, only the Rhode Island legislature or a Rhode Island court can decide if a same-sex marriage is valid in Rhode Island"

Cybercast News Service (CNS) reported a statement by Matt Daniels. He is president of Alliance for Marriage, a group devoted to preventing same-sex couples from marrying. He said:

"This is the latest step in a ten-year process to take the marriage issue out of the hands of the American people. ... The forces behind the case have proved that their goals have not changed, which is to destroy marriage in this country against the will of the people through the courts. They are determined to use the courts to force ... [same-sex marriage] on our country." 7

Some same-sex couples who are residents in New Jersey came to Massachusetts, were married and returned home. The attorney general of Rhode Island issued an opinion that his state must recognize these marriages. More details.

bullet2006-NOV-09: ConCon: A constitutional amendment had been proposed to amend the state constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and thus terminate same-sex marriage. Its supporters collected about 170,000 signatures in support. The legislature has been asked to place the question on the 2008-NOV ballot. The four Roman Catholic bishops of Massachusetts urged their membership to go to the state house on NOV-09 to agitate for an end to marriage equality. The letter asks Catholics to "... pray for success on this critical vote."

The Boston Globe reported:

"Support for same-sex marriage has come from the Reform and Reconstructionist Jewish movements, the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and others. ... delegates to the convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts voted overwhelmingly to urge the Legislature to defeat the ballot initiative. As in the case of the Roman Catholic Church, there are adherents of the Protestant and Jewish groups who do not agree with their denominational leaders.

Rabbi Devon A. Lerner, executive director of the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry said:

"The archdiocese and the religious right who are trying to ban marriage equality are doing it from a religious perspective, and they're trying to impose their beliefs on the rest of us, who don't share them. It's discriminatory against a minority, and it's religious discrimination."

In a Constitutional Convention (ConCon) the House and Senate voted 109 to 86 to recess the Constitutional Convention without taking a vote, thus preserving marriage equality in the state.

bullet2006-NOV: Same-sex marriage data: The Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics, reported that 8,764 same-sex couples had married between 2004-MAY-17 -- the date when the first same-sex weddings became available to 2006-NOV-09. 8
bullet2006-DEC-27: ConCon: The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously that Massachusetts legislators have a obligation under the state constitution to vote on all voter initiatives placed They also ruled that the court had no authority to impose a legal remedy for the plaintiffs.

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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. Michael J. Meade, "Gays To Sue Mass. A.G. Over Marriage Amendment," 365Gay.com, 2005-SEP-08, at: http://365gay.com/
  2. "Marriage Equality Wins 157-39," The Freedom to Marry Coalition of Massachusetts, Email, 2005-SEP-14.
  3. Massachusetts Family Institute, E-Alert, 2005-DEC-07.
  4. The Boston Globe poll is at: http://www.boston.com/
  5. Jason Szep, "Gay marriage battles loom across US," Yahoo! News, 2006-APR-01. at: http://news.yahoo.com/
  6. Scott Helman, "Lobbying intensifies on gay marriage; Romney, O'Malley press for vote on a ban," The Boston Globe, 2006-JUN-29, at: http://www.boston.com/
  7. Gudrun Schultz, "Activist Mass. Judge Grants Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Rhode Island Couples," LifeSiteNews, 2006-OCT-03, at: http://www.lifesite.net/
  8. Dionne Walker, "Despite Laws, Gay Wedding Industry Booms," Associated Press, 2006-DEC-25, at: http://my.earthlink.net

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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-JUN-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

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