Waldlaw Blog

Friday, September 29, 2006

Lesbian & Gay Couples from RI Can Now Marry In MA

HOT OFF THE PRESSES! A Superior Court judge in Massachusetts has just ruled that same-sex couples from Rhode Island can marry in Massachusetts. As you may remember, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has upheld an ancient Massachusetts statute that said that people who do not live in Massachusetts cannot marry in Massachusetts if they would not be allowed to marry in their home state. This means that, for example, a gay couple from California cannot marry in Massachusetts while on vacation there, since California law currently does not allow marriage by same-sex couples. But apparently Rhode Island is one of a small number of states that neither specifically allows nor specifically prevents same-sex marriage. As explained by the court: "No evidence was introduced before this court of a constitutional amendment, statute, or controlling appellate decision from Rhode Island that explicitly deems void or otherwise expressly forbids same-sex marriage." This is interesting. Although the numbers are dwindling, a handful of states remain silent on the issue of gay marriage; so this judge's interpretation of Massachusetts law could (should) open the door for marriage by same-sex couples from any of those states, which include New Mexico, New Jersey and the District of Columbia. It will be very interesting to see what happens if gay couples from those states go to Massachusetts and marry and then return to their home states and demand to be treated as other married couples are. Yet another wrinkle in the marriage equality wars.... (For more on the in's and out's of gay marriage -- including the laws of all the states on these issues -- I recommend the very informative website of the Human Rights Campaign: http://www.hrc.org. They have great maps for those of you who -- like me -- prefer a good graphic over a simple list.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Brad Pitt Strikes Again

In an upcoming article in Esquire, Brad Pitt apparently states that he and Angelina Jolie won't get married until "everyone else in the country who wants to be married is legally able." This statement is being taken as a message of support for gay marriage -- although it is what we in the legal community would describe as overly broad, when you get right down to it. I mean "everyone else in the country" includes an awful lot of people, most of whom were straight last time I checked.... The appreciation for Brad's position expressed in the gay media has been offset by disdain from other sources. Several commentators have suggested that this is just one more on the long list of "reasons" Brad has given for not marrying Angie (the top suspected "reason" being that she won't marry him) -- and, given his very broad use of the phrase "everyone else in the country who wants to be married," it's true that he could be off the marriage hook for a very, very long time. After all, even if same-sex couples are allowed to legally marry, there will always be folks out there who want to marry their first cousins, or marry under age, or marry more than one person, or marry without being legally divorced from their previous spouse -- so it doesn't look like Brad and Angie will be tying the knot any time soon. But I wasn't holding my breath.... (In fact, I wasn't paying even the slightest bit of attention!) In any case, it is nice when the occasional celebrity speaks up for marriage equality. As one British journal noted, maybe now all the U.S. politicians opposing same-sex marriage will change their minds in hopes of being invited to Brad 'n Angie's wedding. Okay, okay, back to reality, but you can't blame a gal for dreaming....