News Articles

MARRIAGE DIGEST: Mass. may allow ‘gay marriages’ for out-of-state couples

BOSTON (BP)–If Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and the two top leaders in the state legislature have their way, state law soon will be changed to allow out-of-state homosexual couples to “marry.”

Such a change could have national ramifications, allowing couples to obtain a license and return home to sue for recognition.

Ever since Massachusetts became the first state to legalize “gay marriage” in 2004, state officials — led by then-Republican Gov. Mitt Romney — have used a 1913 law to prevent out-of-staters from getting “married” if the license wouldn’t be recognized in the couple’s home state. Because the other 49 states don’t recognize “gay marriage,” residency in Massachusetts has been a requirement. (A Massachusetts judge ruled last September that Rhode Island homosexual couples could “marry,” but the Rhode Island attorney general subsequently said his state would not recognize any such licenses.)

“I know that the 1913 law has sort of smelly origins,” Patrick, a Democrat, was quoted as saying in The Boston Globe. “I think it’s outdated. If (a bill overturning it) passes the legislature and comes to my desk, I’ll sign it.”

New Senate President Therese Murray supports overturning the law, as does House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi. Both are Democrats. Bills already are pending in both chambers.

Conservative leaders say a law change could have a dramatic impact on the other states.

“Massachusetts should not become the Mecca for gay marriage. We should not interfere with the sovereignty of other states,” Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, told The Boston Globe. “It’s really a bad decision to open these floodgates.”

In a statement, Mineau said the move to overturn the law “is a clear example why we need a Federal Marriage Amendment.”

The movement to change the law comes as state legislators are preparing to vote once more on a proposed constitutional marriage amendment. If it receives the approval of one-fourth of the body at a constitutional convention, it will go to voters in 2008.

GENE ROBINSON BACKS BILL — V. Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church’s first openly homosexual bishop, spoke at a New Hampshire state Senate hearing April 10 to support a same-sex civil unions bill. The legislation, which would grant homosexual couples all the state legal benefits of marriage, already has passed the state House.

“What we seek in the civil realm is the equal treatment by the state government in supporting this development of our relationship with the legal, financial and societal underpinnings which are afforded married couples at the very moment they say ‘I do,'” he was quoted as saying in the Associated Press.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester, though, spoke out against the bill.

“No other form of relationship between persons can be considered equivalent to a natural relationship between a man and a woman out of whose love it is possible for children to be born,” said Diane Murphy Quinlan, chancellor of the diocese, according to AP. “Marriage is not simply a matter of emotion between two people or a lifestyle choice.”

The bill is H.B. 437.

BILLS ADVANCE IN WASH., ORE. — A bill that would legalize same-sex domestic partnerships in Washington state passed the state House April 10 by a vote of 63-35. Meanwhile, an Oregon House committee passed a domestic partnerships bill the same day, 5-2. The Washington bill would grant same-sex couples many of the state legal benefits of marriage, while the Oregon bill would grant all of them. The Oregon committee changed the term in the bill from “civil unions” to domestic partnerships.

In both states, opponents say the proposals are a natural step toward the legalization of full-blown “gay marriage.” In fact, Washington state Rep. Jamie Pedersen, a Democrat who backed the bill, said it was a “first step in providing some first protections for same-sex couples and their families.”

But Washington state Rep. Jay Rodne, a Republican who opposed the bill, said supporters should have simply introduced a “gay marriage” bill, since that is their ultimate intention.

“I think this body ought to have that debate,” Rodney said, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “Let’s bring forth a marriage bill, have that debate, make those votes, and vote our conscience. What we do today really clouds the issue. It really undermines the incentive for individuals to get married. It further erodes and weakens an already beleaguered institution to our detriment.”

The Washington bill is S.B. 5336. The Oregon bill is H.B. 2007.

‘GAY MARRIAGE’ AGAIN IN CALIF. — A bill that would legalize “gay marriage” in California passed an Assembly committee April 10 and now moves on to another Assembly committee, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. It passed on a party-line vote of 7-3, with Democrats supporting it and Republicans opposing it.

Conservatives say the bill is unconstitutional because it would overturn Proposition 22, a voter-approved initiative that limits marriage to one man, one woman. Article II, Section 10 of the California constitution says that the legislature “may amend or repeal an initiative statute … only when approved by the electors.”

The bill is A.B. 43. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, vetoed such a bill in 2005.

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust