MARRIAGE DIGEST: 1913 Mass. law may affect out-of-staters

by Michael Foust, posted Friday, April 02, 2004 (16 years ago)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Out-of-state same-sex couples may not be able to acquire marriage licenses next month in Massachusetts if, as expected, a controversial court ruling takes effect.

A 1913 Massachusetts law prevents out-of-state couples from getting married if the marriage would be illegal in their home state. That would apply to at least 38 states, where defense of marriage acts have been passed and same-sex “marriage” is explicitly illegal.

“In those states ... where same-sex marriage is not lawful, [same-sex couples] are not entitled and cannot be lawfully married here," Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly said March 30, according to The Boston Globe. “This [court] opinion is rather limited, in terms of Massachusetts residents who are entitled to these rights.”

Already, out-of-state couples sign affidavits saying their marriage would be legal in their home state, and that policy will continue, The Globe reported.

The decision by the Massachusetts’ high court legalizing same-sex “marriage” is scheduled to take effect May 17.

Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, is studying ways to prevent or delay the ruling. Massachusetts legislators took the first step in passing a marriage amendment March 29, leading Romney to seek a stay from the court until the amendment process is complete. But Reilly, a Democrat, has refused to ask the court for a stay, saying Romney’s arguments are invalid.

Romney said April 1 that he is no longer pursuing the stay option.

“[Reilly has] made his decision,” Romney said in The Globe. “… Of course, I’m also considering other options. I don’t have anything to report in that regard, but stay tuned.”

The Globe reported that Romney may be considering issuing an executive order telling clerks not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, or proposing a law to accomplish the same task. A third option is a bill proposed by Rep. Paul Loscocco, a Republican, that would abolish marriage altogether in the state and would create civil unions for both heterosexuals and homosexuals. If a couple wanted a marriage blessing, they would have to approach a church.

Homosexual activists have been vocal in their legal strategy to have the federal Defense of Marriage Act overturned, thus legalizing same-sex “marriage” nationally.

The 1913 law likely would only delay that strategy. A Massachusetts same-sex couple could acquire a license, then move to another state and sue in federal court, seeking recognition of their “marriage.”

SUBCOMMITTEE HEARING -- A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee held a hearing March 30 on whether the Defense of Marriage Act is in danger of being overturned. It was the first of five hearings to be held on the various legal threats to traditional marriage.

Bob Barr, a former congressman who sponsored DOMA, received the most attention for his opposition to a federal marriage amendment. He said it would “cheapen the sacrosanct nature” of the Constitution.

But Rep. John Hostettler, R.-Ind., said court rulings are threatening the traditional definition of marriage.

“It’s coming at us, and it’s coming at us fast,” Hostettler said.

CALIF. CASE -- California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has asked the state Supreme Court to put a hold on same-sex “marriage” cases in lower courts until the high court hears its marriage case.

The high court is set to hear arguments in May or June on whether San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom broke state law by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The court, though, will not deal with the legality of same-sex “marriage” itself.

Lawsuits dealing with the legality of same-sex “marriage” have been filed in lower courts, and Lockyer wants them halted and grouped together, so that there won’t be a series of different decisions, Reuters reported.

STOPPED AGAIN -- Victoria Dunlap, Sandoval County (N.M.) clerk, won’t be issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples anytime soon, even though she would like to.

District Judge Kenneth Brown issued a restraining order against Dunlap, but then withdrew from the case as the order was set to expire April 2. Dunlap announced she would begin again issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples once the order expired.

But the New Mexico Supreme Court stepped in, and in a unanimous ruling extended the order until a court can rule on the case, the Associated Press reported. Dunlap issued more than 60 marriage licenses to same-sex couples in February, only to have the state attorney general issue an advisory letter saying the licenses were illegal.

WASH. SUED -- The American Civil Liberties Union sued the state of Washington April 1, seeking to overturn the state’s ban on same-sex “marriage,” AP reported

In 1998 Washington passed a Defense of Marriage Act protecting the traditional definition of marriage.

PROTEST IN KY. -- Hundreds of same-sex “marriage” opponents protested in Frankfort, Ky., March 29, seeking to pressure the state House into passing a constitutional marriage amendment, AP reported.

Although the House adjourned without passing an amendment, it could be considered again when legislators meet again April 12-13. Republicans shocked Democrats March 26, staging a dramatic walkout after Democrats voted to limit debate and not consider GOP changes to a marriage amendment. Democrats had added language to the amendment limiting the judiciary’s power to impose mandates on the legislature -- which Republicans said was unrelated to same-sex “marriage. The Democrat version would be struck down before reaching the ballot, Republicans said.

ORE. RECALL EFFORT -- A group of Oregon citizens has begun a recall effort against Benton County Commissioner Chairwoman Linda Modrell, who voted in March to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. A week later, the council reversed its decision and voted to stop issuing marriage licenses to any couple -- heterosexual or homosexual -- until the state courts decide the issue.

The group has 90 days to collect 4,833 signatures, the Corvallis Gazette-Times reported.

“She violated the trust of the public, clearly broke Oregon statutes and we feel that she is totally unfit to serve one more day,” Lee Vasche, one of the group’s leaders, said, according to the newspaper.

LIFE PARTNERS? -- The Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill March 29 that would allow same-sex couples and unmarried couples to register as “life partners,” allowing them to make medical decisions for one another, The Washington Post reported.

The bill, which passed 103-30, now goes to the Senate.

POLITICIAN COMES OUT -- Providing drama in the middle of a hearing on bills related to same-sex “marriage,” Rhode Island House Majority Leader Gordon Fox announced March 31 that he is homosexual.

“It’s an important message to get out,” Fox said, according to AP. “We are in these [elected] positions to lead.”

BRITISH MOVE LEFT -- The British government announced plans March 30 to give the legal benefits of marriage to same-sex couples. The plan won’t call the contracts “marriages” but instead “civil partnerships,” Reuters reported.

Officials say they hope it will be passed by the end of the year, Reuters said.

STATE UPDATE -- Missouri legislators advanced a marriage amendment while Minnesota legislators saw one fail in voting March 26-30.

In Missouri, the House strengthened a marriage amendment by adding language saying that the state would not recognize any same-sex relationship “that is treated as a marriage” elsewhere, AP reported. That passed 128-20 and has to pass once more before it is sent to the Senate, which has already approved a similar measure.

In Minnesota, a Senate committee defeated an amendment 5-4. The amendment, which had already passed the House, reads: “Only the union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota. Any other relationship shall not be recognized as a marriage or its legal equivalent” However, the same committee did approve an amendment that stop the courts from changing the definition of marriage, AP reported. That bill passed 5-4. Supporters of the defeated amendment still hope it can pass if tweaked.


For more information about the debate over same-sex "marriage," visit

http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

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