However, as state officials, justices of the peace cannot refuse the civil solemnization of any couple with a valid marriage license. The office of the Governors Legal Counsel spells it out in its duties page for justices of the peace.
Justices of the Peace are public officials that have sworn an oath that to "bear true faith and allegiance to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and [to] support the constitution thereof." In Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, 440 Mass. 309 (2003), the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts decided that denying marriage to couples based on their sexual orientation violates the Massachusetts Constitution. As such, Justices of the Peace may not refuse to marry same sex couples based on their sexual orientation, and may face personal liability if they do refuse to marry a couple based solely on sexual orientation. In addition, refusing the marry a same sex couple solely based on their race, sexual orientation, or other protected status may constitute cause for removal of a Justice of the Peace's commission.As JP commissions are easy money and coveted spots, few JPs if any will resign. Who knows, they may learn to enjoy uniting gay couples. At the one gay civil union I attended in Vermont, the JP said he preferred same-sex ceremonies because the unions were always sincere and often had original vows.