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.)


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