MASS SUPREMES ORDER GAY MARRIAGE
The Massachusetts high court ruled Wednesday that only full, equal marriage rights for gay couples—rather than civil unions—would be constitutional, erasing any doubts that the nation’s first same-sex marriages could take place in the state beginning in mid-May.
The court issued the opinion in response to a request from the state Senate about whether Vermont-style civil unions, which convey the state benefits of marriage—but not the title—would meet constitutional muster.
“The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal,” the four justices who ruled in favor of gay marriage wrote in the advisory opinion. A bill that would allow for civil unions, but falls short of marriage, makes for “unconstitutional, inferior, and discriminatory status for same-sex couples.”
The much-anticipated opinion sets the stage for next Wednesday’s constitutional convention, where the Legislature will consider an amendment that would legally define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Without the opinion, Senate President Robert Travaglini had said the vote would be delayed.
The soonest a constitutional amendment could end up on the ballot would be 2006, meaning that until then, the high court’s decision will be Massachusetts law no matter what is decided at the constitutional convention.
Very interesting. This will certainly bring the issue to a head quickly.
I don’t see why the US Supreme Court would get involved in this, since it’s purely a state issue. The question would seem to be whether the “Defense of Marriage Act,” passed under President Clinton, will stand Constitutional scrutiny or be deemed to violate the Full Faith and Credit Clause. I don’t know the background case law precedent–I’m led to believe the Court has previously allowed states not to recognize marriages perfomed in other states that violate local public policy–but a plain meaning reading would certainly seem to call for the overturning of DOMA. If that happens, then a stark decision will be upon us: we can either get used to the idea of gay marriage very quickly or try to block it with an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.