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Mass. justice denies request by citizen to have same-sex ‘marriage’ ruling delayed

BOSTON (BP)–With same-sex “marriage” in Massachusetts apparently less than two weeks away, a justice for the state high court has rejected a request to have the controversial ruling delayed.

Supporters of traditional marriage are now pinning their hopes on two other requests — one filed by the American Center for Law and Justice and the other filed by the Alliance Defense Fund and the Law and Liberty Institute.

If the opinion of Associate Justice Roderick L. Ireland is any indication, the high court likely won’t revisit the controversial decision it handed down last November. It is scheduled to take effect May 17.

Ireland issued a statement May 3 denying a request by four pro-family groups and Massachusetts citizen C. Joseph Doyle to have the ruling delayed until citizens can vote on a proposed state constitutional marriage amendment.

“The petitioner’s claim of injury in this case rests on his assumption that the constitutional amendment process currently underway will conclude with a given result,” Ireland wrote.

“Because the process has only recently moved past the initial stage, because it must proceed through other stages over the course of years, and since the outcome at any stage is not certain, the petitioner’s alleged injury can properly be described as both speculative and remote.”

Ireland said he lacked authority to alter the decision of the full court and that even if he had authority, he would turn it down.

“[T]he petitioner has not demonstrated that he has any proper basis to be before this court and, even if he had demonstrated that he has a basis to be before the court, his request for a stay for more than two years is unreasonable in these circumstances,” Ireland wrote.

The request to intervene was filed on behalf of Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts. Four pro-family groups filed the petition: Citizens for the Preservation of Constitutional Rights, Thomas More Law Center, Liberty Counsel and the American Family Association Center for Law and Policy.

Following is a summary of the other two requests:

— The Alliance Defense Fund and the Law and Liberty Institute filed a motion May 4 to intervene on behalf of Ray Flynn, mayor of Boston from 1984 to 1993, and Thomas A. Shields, a Massachusetts businessman. The request is unique in that it avoids the high court altogether and instead asks a Massachusetts lower court — called the Superior Court — to dismiss the case.

The motion argues that the pro-same-sex “marriage” ruling essentially amended the state constitution — something that the state constitution reserves for the people of Massachusetts, attorneys assert.

In its decision last November the state high court remanded the case to the Superior Court for entry of judgment.

“At no point during the progress of litigation is it too late to consider whether there is absence of authority to proceed,” Benjamin Bull of the Alliance Defense Fund said in a statement.

— The American Center for Law and Justice is awaiting word on its request to have the high court explain where in the state constitution it found the jurisdiction to issue its ruling. The request, filed April 27 on behalf of 13 state legislators, asserts that the constitution gives the legislature and the governor — not the judicial system — the authority over marriage laws.

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the ACLJ, said on his radio program May 4 that initially he was not “overly optimistic” about the request’s chances and that he feared it would be rejected “quickly.” Instead, Sekulow said, he has some hope because the Massachusetts attorney general and the homosexual activist groups in the case were asked by the court to file legal briefs by the end of the day May 4.

“We’re still in court, and that is a good sign,” Sekulow said.

For the ACLJ request to succeed, one of the justices who issued the 4-3 majority decision must change his or her mind.

Ireland made clear May 3 that he rejects the argument that the ruling should be delayed while the process to amend the state constitution takes place. In March, state legislators completed the first step of a three-step process to amend the constitution. The second step involves passage of the amendment in the next session, while the third step involves approval by voters, which would be 2006 at the earliest.

The amendment would ban same-sex “marriage” while legalizing civil unions.

Ireland pointed to a 1984 case, in which the court struck down the death penalty. Voters subsequently approved a constitutional amendment allowing the legislature to impose the death penalty for certain crimes.

“Amending the Constitution in response to a decision of the court is not new, and, therefore, the assumption is not only without merit, but also demonstrates a lack of understanding of this court’s case history,” Ireland wrote.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit

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  • Michael Foust