Massachusetts Advances Gay Marriage - Again
by Mike McManus
Massachusetts is determined to force same-sex marriage on all of
That's the only explanation for a unanimous voice vote by Massachusetts
Senate Tuesday to repeal a 1913 law barring out-of-state couples from
marrying if their home state would not recognize the marriage.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court took the ill-fated first step
when it ordered the Legislature to pass a law permitting same-sex
marriage in 2003, resulting in 11,000 gay weddings.
However, then Gov. Mitt Romney told town clerks not to approve
out-of-state gay couple weddings, citing the 1913 law preventing
marriages of those whose home states did not approve of gay marriage. He
also warned that repealing the law would make Massachusetts the "Las
Vegas of gay marriage." That staved off a vote for several years.
However, it was 2008 presidential politics that encouraged gays to
hesitate to push for repeal. Marc Solomon, campaign director of
MassEquality, a gay rights group, told the New York Times, "We were
collectively thinking about planning to wait until after the November
elections because we were concerned that the far right, the Karl Rove
types of people, would once again try to use this issue as a wedge issue
in the campaign".
Then the California Supreme Court ruled by 4-3 that gay marriage was
legal, overturning a 2000 referendum backed by 4.6 million people (61%)
that upheld traditional marriage as the union between a man and a
woman. "Once the California decision happened and out-of-state couples
could go to California, there was no reason not to move forthwith," said
California could override the Supreme Court ruling if it supports a
constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexuals. That seems
However, if the Massachusetts House approves the repeal, Gov. Deval
Patrick said he would sign it. (His 18-year-old daughter recently
disclosed that she is a lesbian.) There is no recourse. An attempt to
pass a MA Constitutional Amendment failed this year when the bill did
not even get a required meager 25% backing from the Legislature.
"The green light has been given to export this radical social experiment
from coast to coast," said Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts
Family Institute, an affiliate of Focus on the Family.
Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston and three Catholic bishops from
Springfield, Fall River, and Worcester jointly stated that "Our
legislature is attempting to impose the Supreme Judicial Court's
definition of marriage upon other states. Such action endangers the
principle of state sovereignty that gives each state the right to govern
itself and enact its own laws."
They argued that "Marriage is a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a
man and a woman joined in an intimate community of love and life. Across
times, cultures and many different religious beliefs, marriage between a
man and a woman is the foundation of the family and society. Marriage
is a personal relationship with public significance."
Sadly, the statement was issued AFTER the Senate action. Twenty of the
state's 40 Senators are Catholic, some of whom might have paid
attention, if pressured before the vote.
Incredibly, not one voice of opposition was heard in the brief
discussion of the issue before the voice vote. Brian Camenkey, president
of the pro-family group, MassResistance, called the vote "cowardly:
Nobody, obviously, nobody wanted their name in front of this. Somebody
could have at least called for a roll call vote."
There appears to be some hope for a vigorous floor debate in the House.
One charge made in the Senate debate can easily be refuted, that the
1913 law was originally aimed at preventing interracial marriages. Back
in 1843, Massachusetts was the second state in the country to pass a law
to permit interracial marriage. Why would the state vote 60 years later
to limit its impact on other states? Similarly, no one was thinking of
same-sex marriage in 1913.
Out-of-state gays filed a case against the 1913 law that was rejected by
the Supreme Judicial Court that approved gay marriage because "We would
not presume to dictate how another State should respond to today's
A state Economic Development Office estimated that a change of the law
could attract 21,000 gay couples from New York and New England to
Massachusetts, boosting the economy by $111 million.
That seems excessive. However, armed with Massachusetts recognition,
many gays can be expected to file law suits in their home states to
overturn state laws, creating chaos in the courts.
The need for a Federal Marriage Amendment could not be more clear. But
if a Democratic President and Congress is elected, that will be
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