Saturday, March 12, 2005

Mitt Catching It

Governor Mitt Romney's seemingly petty attempt at preventing at least some gay marriages got an official challenge Friday. Eight same-sex couples and 13 Massachusetts town or city clerks challenged the application of laws forbidding marriages by out-of-staters if such weddings would not be valid in their home states.

The suit to the Supreme Judicial Court asks for rulings on Massachusetts laws Chapter 207, Section 11 (forbidding marriages not legal in other states) and 12 (requiring the clerks to verify the legality of the marriages).

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) filed a 90-page amicus brief, which argues
The Commonwealth’s application of §§11-12 to non-resident same-sex couples violates the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The right to marry is a “privilege” or “immunity” of state citizenship, and is therefore deserving of protection under the Privilege and Immunities Clause. The Commonwealth lacks a substantial justification for its discrimination between non-resident same-sex couples and resident same-sex couples and cannot demonstrate a substantial relationship between its discrimination and its purported justifications for §§11-12.

Note: The above link opens a PDF file, which requires Adobe Acrobat or compatible reader.

In its press release on the subject, GLAD includes:
The brief makes the case that Goodridge is the reigning law. “Goodridge said that Massachusetts may not discriminate against same-sex couples who want to marry,” said GLAD attorney Michele Granda. “Goodridge did not say Massachusetts can discriminate if the other state discriminates.”

GLAD also argues that the Governor revived the 1913 law because of his opposition to the marriages of same-sex couples, knowing that it would prevent them from marrying in the state. Before May 17, 2004, the Commonwealth never took any action to bar non-residents from marrying who could not marry in their home states.

“The Commonwealth never sought information from applicants about their own state’s laws,” said Granda. “The 1913 law was taken off the shelf and dusted off for the express purpose of discriminating against gays and lesbians.”
These two sections of the commonwealth marriage law are the ones civil liberties folk point out were specifically enacted to prevent interracial marriages.

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