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Judge: Rhode Island couples can ‘marry’ in Massachusetts

BOSTON (BP)–A Massachusetts judge ruled Sept. 29 that same-sex couples from Rhode Island can “marry” in the Bay State, handing homosexual activists a significant victory and likely sparking a movement for a law or constitutional amendment in Rhode Island banning “gay marriage.”

In a nine-page ruling Superior Court Justice Thomas E. Connolly noted that Rhode Island has no constitutional amendment, statute or court ruling expressly banning “gay marriage.” His decision may be the biggest legal win yet for homosexual activists in their effort to spread “marriages” from Massachusetts to other states. It is not known, though, whether Rhode Island will recognize the licenses.

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

Compounding the legal situation for conservatives, Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly, a Democrat, said the decision would not be appealed. According to The Boston Globe, in a statement Reilly said “pursuing this matter further in the courts would be a waste of time and resources.” Reilly supports “gay marriage.”

The ruling stems from a 2004 lawsuit by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) on behalf of same-sex couples from Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Rhode Island seeking marriage licenses in Massachusetts. Massachusetts has used a 1913 law to say that a couple should not be issued a license if the marriage would not be recognized in the couple’s home state.

While the highest court in Massachusetts ruled against most of the couples in March, it allowed the lawsuits by the New York and Rhode Island couples to proceed in a lower court. In July, New York’s highest court refused to legalize “gay marriage,” leaving a Rhode Island lesbian couple as the only ones involved in the Massachusetts case.

Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, said he was “very disappointed” with the ruling.

“We find it rather bizarre that judges in Massachusetts would be deciding what the definition of marriage is in other states,” he said. “Once again, it certainly points out the need that we have for a federal marriage amendment to settle this issue once and for all.”

Lawyers for GLAD — the same legal group that won the initial “gay marriage” suit in Massachusetts — applauded the decision.

“At last the fence of discrimination has been removed at the border of Massachusetts and Rhode Island,” GLAD attorney Michele Granda said in a statement. “Loving, committed, Rhode Island couples can now affirm their relationships in the most public and respected way our society knows.”

But Eric Fehrnstrom, a spokesman for Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, criticized the decision.

“The ruling is illogical, and I think [Rhode Island] Governor [Donald L.] Carcieri and the people of Rhode Island will be surprised to learn that gay marriage is permissible in their state,” Fehrnstrom said in a statement, according to The Globe.

Carcieri, a Republican, is “very pro-life and pro-marriage,” Mineau said.

It is not known if marriage licenses by same-sex couples will be recognized in Rhode Island.

“There’s no precedent for [recognizing the license] — that’s for sure,” Chris Stovall, an attorney with the Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund, told BP. “… It certainly does beg the question now: Will a lawsuit be filed in Rhode Island [by a homosexual legal group] to try and fill the vacuum that’s been identified by Massachusetts? Or will the Rhode Island legislature be proactive and close the gap? It remains to be seen.”
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

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  • Michael Foust