Massachusetts Could Be First US State To Legalize Gay Marriage

Tue. July 8, 2003 12:00 AM by

Boston, Massachusetts - The highest court in Massachusetts is in a position to American legal history and legalize gay marriage. The court is scheduled to bring down a decision this month on a challenge to the state's refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The case is based on Massachusetts' marriage law which unlike other states does not define what constitutes a married couple.

If the justices rule that state is acting unconstitutionally by refusing to issue the licenses Massachusetts would become the first state in the country where gay and lesbian partners could marry.

It will also be the first major state decision since the Supreme Court ruled that gays have Constitutional rights (story), a fact unlikely to be missed by the Massachusetts court.

Tuesday, the state court got an earful from Boston's most prestigious newspaper. In an editorial, the Boston Globe called on the court to rule in favor of same-sex couples.

"For 200 YEARS American society has drawn a steadily expanding circle of rights: the rights of blacks, then women, and then 18-year-olds to vote; of minorities, women, gays, and the physically disabled to be free from discrimination; of single mothers, adoptive parents, and other nontraditional families to receive government benefits," said the editorial.

"In the 1967 case Loving v. Virginia, the US Supreme Court ruled that the right to marry could not be restricted by race.

"In 1993 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the right to adopt children could not be denied on the basis of sexual orientation.

"In 1999 the Vermont Supreme Court found that the benefits of legal marriage could not be withheld from lesbian and gay couples.

"Now seven same-sex couples have petitioned the SJC for the right to marry under civil law. Their stories of courtship and commitment are so ordinary, and their claim to equal benefits so compelling, that it seems inevitable the circle of rights will eventually widen to enfold them as well. We think the SJC should say that day has come."

Gay rights supporters praised the Globe's editorial.

"The Globe's position is wonderful ... (this) should really be a no-brainer," said spokesman David Smith of Human Rights Campaign.

The court is expected to issue its decision before it adjourns for the summer July 15.

by Michael J. Meade Newscenter
Boston Bureau
©® 2003

This article originally appeared on Republished with permission.