On May 17, 2004, the debate over gay marriage in
Massachusetts finally ended. Massachusetts made history on a grand scale by
becoming the first state in the U.S. to legally grant Massachusetts gay couples
the rights, and respect of full marriage equality.
Thanks to the landmark Goodridge v. Department of Public Health case, a 4–3 ruling was
brought to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on November 18, 2003, which
found that the state of Massachusetts may not, under any circumstance,
“deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil
marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry.”
While the idea of civil unions for the Massachusetts gay community had been the
first consideration, the court also ruled that civil unions would not meet the
requirements that the Goodridge case
So, in the end, the court decided that full marriage rights for
the Massachusetts gay community would become legal. And the rest, as they
say, truly is history. Massachusetts became a prime example of a liberal
democracy at work, respecting rights for all
of it’s residents regardless of sexual preference. Over 6,000 gay and
lesbian partners would be married in the first 6 months of the new law alone,
kicking off the newly instated privilege of gay marriage in Massachusetts with
a real bang.
In another milestone decision for the
state, on July 31, 2008, Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill that revoked an
old law, dating back to 1913, that was used to deny marriage licenses to
same-sex couples from other states, unless they had plans to reside in
Massachusetts. With the new law, however, homosexual couples from anywhere in
the world can officially marry in the state of Massachusetts without
necessarily intending to reside in Massachusetts.
Although there have indeed been
efforts to appeal the court’s decision to allow gay marriage in Massachusetts
by amending the state’s constitution, the most recent being in the year 2007,
all efforts have successfully been defeated, and for now, the Massachusetts gay
community can enjoy the freedom of marrying their partners if they so desire.
That is not to say that gay marriage in Massachusetts is
flawless, though. Due to the fact that federal law currently states that
marital benefits are only received in heterosexual marriages, there is still
has plenty room for improvement. Over 1,000 marital benefits still remain
unavailable to married Massachusetts gay couples.