Sunday, August 01, 2004

Bay State Baiting

It was the classic monkey's paw in Massachusetts. The legislature should have been careful about what it wished for. It got it and didn't care for the results.

The cowardly lawmakers knew that the commonwealth highest court was considering the Goodridge case, for the better part of two years, plenty of time to put limiting laws in place. They didn't want to stick their collective neck out and waited for the Supreme Judicial court. When the three-to-two decision came down, the result was very bold, very logical, very unsettling, and very American. The women and men on the Boston bench said that what wasn't forbidden was permitted.

In contrast to the old Soviet Union, where only what was specifically permitted was legal, in this country and state, it is the reverse. Nothing in the Massachusetts constitution or body of laws forbids same-sex marriage.

That distinction seems lost on most media so far. However, it is the key reason why the commonwealth was the right place to bring the action. There was no confusion about what the church might want or what the legislature or some amendment decades ago pronounced. The issue is simply who has the right to a marriage license. Once that is in hand, the law says they can wed.

Even here, there are restrictions on the license. To wit:
  • Both parties need a picture ID, preferably a driver's license.
  • Both parties need to be at least 18 years old.
  • They each need a blood test to be sure they are not carrying venereal diseases.
  • They need to wait three days
  • They have 60 days from getting the license to marry or repeat the process
  • Together, they must pay $4 plus the county-court fee (usually a total of $25).
  • They must appear for the license together.
  • Any divorced party must bring a final divorce decree.

That is less restrictive than some states. They do not need to be residents of the commonwealth. They can marry cousins. And now they can marry someone of the same gender.

1 comment:

BostonEyes said...

This site is the most valuable (and well-written)resource available on the Internet for information about marriage in Massachusetts, same-sex marriage, or the history of marriage in general.