1913 Law Upheld in Massachusetts

State judge ruled in favor of the law that prevents out-of-state homosexual couples from getting marriage licenses from Massachusetts
( [email protected] ) Aug 18, 2004 09:34 PM EDT

On Aug. 18, a Massachusetts judge struck a hard blow to out-of-state homosexual couples wishing to receive marriage licenses from Massachusetts, by letting stand a 1913 law that essentially prevents them from attaining such licenses.

Superior Court Judge Carol Ball declined the request by eight out-of-state homosexual couples to issue a preliminary injunction against the law. The law, which acts as a precedence for the current controversy over homosexual ‘marriages,’ would prevent out-of-state couples from receiving licenses if their home state does not recognize the union.

While Judge Ball was sympathetic to the couples’ call, she said the law must still be upheld.

"It does seem to this court that on its face the (1913 law) violates the spirit of Goodridge, which held that the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights entitles gay and lesbian couples to equal treatment under the marriage laws of the Commonwealth," Judge Ball said in her ruling. "Moreover, the court finds troubling the timing of the resurrection of the implementation of (the law) immediately after the Supreme Judicial Court declared the prohibition against gay marriages unconstitutional.

"However, the plaintiffs have failed to show that same-sex couples are being subjected to a different set of rules than are opposite-sex couples,” she said.

According to the Associated press, the Plaintiffs in the case said they might take their case to the Supreme Court.

Should the high court uphold the 1913 law, it will more than likely impact the legal strategy of same-sex couples around the nation, many of whom have already sued their respective states for the recognition of their Massachusetts-attained licenses. If the 1913 law is upheld, those cases will lose much of their merit, since the licenses would be automatically voided.

Ray McNulty, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Family Institute, explained the implications of Ball’s ruling:

"What it really means is that those individuals who had the intention of coming into Massachusetts and leaving this state to take same-sex ‘marriage’ beyond Massachusetts borders -- and propagate same-sex 'marriage' throughout the country -- are going to be thwarted,” he said to Baptist Press.

"For those that said that it was a civil rights issue, I think this ruling indicated that -- as we contended -- it certainly is not a civil rights issue.”