Saturday, April 15, 2006

Massachusetts (or Canada?) SSM

Who says adults are too old for games? Same-sex marriage offers variations for many. To wit:
  • Couples can say or sign a statement that they intend to live in Massachusetts.
  • Clerks can take them at their word or grill them to the extent of the clerks' sadism.
  • Attorney General Tom Reilly can play at enforcing the law when the Republican toady singling gay couples for discimination.
  • Officials here and in the other United States can play act that the 7,000-plus SS couples married here will dutifully live their remaining years here, unlike the rest of the mobile citizens.
  • Gov. Cap'n Brylcreem Romney can thump his concave chest and pretend that he has prevented the spread of love and devotion by enforcing statutes promising one-sided comity.
Two years on, a dangling question remains about what an out-of-state SS couple should do. Granted many homosexuals aren't interested in marriage, just like many het couples. For the many thousands, maybe millions, who are, they see our commonwealth as the flashing neon by the bay. MARRY HERE (blink) MARRIAGE EQUALITY (blink).

So what do you do back in the folded-arms/evil-eye world of, say Texas. Some years, probably decades later, they will slap their collective DoMA foreheads, and say, "Y'all, just what were we thinking when we passed that amendment?"

Meanwhile, you can marry in places like Canada, Spain and the Netherlands, and even Massachusetts. What happens when you two, married and all, come to your bungalow and daily commute later? And is there a legal cost for telling the little clerk lady that you had every intention to reside in Massachusetts?

Short-term, the squeamish are hearing from GLAD that they should go to our Northern neighbor for a quicky marriage. "The best bet is to either move here (to Massachusetts) or get married in Canada," said GLAD Director of Public Affairs and Education Carisa Cunningham.

Her opinions and heap many warnings are in a Southern Voice article.

On the other hand, the charade of comity that Reilly and Romney perform daily for us and their political campaigns is light indeed. We don't have a single legally wedded SS couple; there are THOUSANDS. The normal changes of living, such as employment, family deaths, inheritance, illnesses and other major events will lead many of these to move elsewhere, almost entirely to other states, states that do not recognize those marriages.

The baby has left the womb.

We Quake at the Penalty

Feigning that we'll prevent any single couple from dishonestly claiming that they'll remain here forever and ever -- unlike straight couples -- is an insult to our collective intelligence and experience. Yet, feign we do.

The law is plain enough.

Chapter 207: Section 12. Legal ability of non-residents to marry; duty of licensing officer to ascertain
Before issuing a license to marry a person who resides and intends to continue to reside in another state, the officer having authority to issue the license shall satisfy himself, by requiring affidavits or otherwise, that such person is not prohibited from intermarrying by the laws of the jurisdiction where he or she reside.

In practice, this varies by the personality of the clerk. They are not Matt Dillon nor Colombo. They ask and basically take people at their words.

So, let's assume that the couple really intends of live here. What if their circumstances change. What is an acceptable time before the go for more maritally conservative climes -- a month, six months, two years?

More to the point for those who get a license here, promise to reside and leave shortly after? Well, it's more than the $1 Boston jaywalking fine.

Chapter 207: Section 52. Violation of law concerning making notice of intention; false statements

Whoever violates any provision of section twenty, and whoever falsely swears or affirms in making any statement required under section twenty, shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars.

Read 'em and weep, ye scofflaws. That's right a big $100. That's right, tremble in your false witnessing selves. If you lie about this, it's a Ben Franklin you'll be forfeiting, if they prosecute and if they convict you.

So cut the crap. You can't get the infant back in the uterus. The pretense of comity for making nice to atavistic states that will not recognize our marriages is just that, a sham.

One Open-Eyed Justice

Supreme Judicial Court Justice Roderick L. Ireland dissented from the recent decision to enforce that dreadful 1913 law on out-of-state marriages. He can see with Superman's X-Ray eyes through the political fluff to the issues.

In his dissent, he placed the sight before us all:
We know how our marriage statute should be interpreted, and this should be the guidepost to our decision. As the court established in the Aves case, no matter how difficult or politically divisive the issue, comity cannot provide a rational basis to offend the equality and liberty principles of the Massachusetts Constitution.

...I do not believe that a discussion of comity is necessary in this case, where it is our marriage law that we are interpreting. Furthermore, even if comity applied to this case, our settled law prevents its application in the way now suggested.
So there it is. It's our laws, our marriages, our equality, our party. Everyone should feel welcome to join.

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