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Massachusetts high court overturns Boston’s domestic partners policy

BOSTON (BP)–Massachusetts’s highest court struck down Boston’s domestic partners policy July 8, providing what the lawyer who argued for the winning side called a “major victory for marriage and the family.”
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court overruled an executive order issued last year by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino that allowed homosexual and unmarried heterosexual partners of city employees to receive the same health benefits as married heterosexuals.
“The Supreme Judicial Court has confirmed what we believed all along — the mayor of Boston lacked the authority to enact this kind of ordinance, which would give benefits to same-sex partners,” said Vincent McCarthy of the American Center for Law and Justice in a written release.
“It is clear the issue of domestic partnership laws rests with the state legislature and the governor, not cities and localities. The major’s ordinance directly counters existing state law and was simply an attempt to circumvent state marriage law in an effort to recognize homosexual and [unmarried] heterosexual unions. The law is both legally and morally wrong.”
McCarthy, the ACLJ’s senior northeast regional counsel, argued against the policy before the court in April.
Governments, schools and corporations that provide domestic partners benefits continue to increase in the United States. More than 60 state and local governments and about 90 universities offer such benefits, according to the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest homosexual political organization. Among the more than 470 companies or unions with such benefits are American Express, AT&T, Clorox, Eastman Kodak, Levi Strauss, Mattel, Pillsbury, Proctor and Gamble, Starbucks Coffee and Walt Disney, according to HRC.
At its 1997 meeting, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution opposing domestic partners benefits.
In striking down the executive order, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled domestic partners were not covered in the state law permitting cities to provide health insurance for employees and their dependents, The Boston Globe reported. The law defines dependents as spouses, children under 19 and children more than 19 who are unable to provide for themselves, according to The Globe.
The court said the legislature could make domestic partners benefits possible by expanding the definition of dependents or by authorizing local municipalities to provide their own definition, according to the newspaper.
The Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling will impact about 200 people who are either domestic partners or their dependents, according to the newspaper. While the ruling only dealt with Boston’s policy, it also could affect similar policies in such cities as Springfield, Cambridge and Northampton, the paper reported.
Last year, legislators adopted a home-rule petition permitting Boston to grant such benefits, but Gov. Paul Cellucci, R., vetoed it because it would have extended benefits to unmarried heterosexual couples, the newspaper reported. Cellucci believed including heterosexuals would have undermined the institution of marriage, according to The Globe. Cellucci would have signed the bill if it only covered homosexual partners, a spokeswoman in his office said, according to the newspaper.

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