Ladies and Gentlemen, start your marriage licenses. Our AG Martha Coakley has the opportunity to right one of the worst wrongs of her blundering predecessor Tom Reilly. The infamous statutes (General Laws Chapter 207, Sections 11, 12, 13 and 50) that prevent out-of-state same-sex couples from marrying here are headed to the SJC.
As reported in the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror, 13 town and city clerks have filed to take the case all the way. Led by the outspoken Nantucket Town Clerk Catherine Flanagan Stover, the clerks claim that these laws violate the Goodridge decision of four years ago.
I'm not sure what the list means. In addition to Stover, the clerks who joined in are from Acton, Burlington, Cambridge, Marblehead, Northhampton, Plymouth, Provincetown, Rowe, Sherborn, Somerville, Westford and Worcester. The hot shot firm of Palmer & Dodge represents the clerks in the person of attorney Kevin Batt.
I'm with them. Despite Reilly's dissembling, these laws were meant to keep Black and white mixed couples from marrying. Then Gov. Mitt Romney and Reilly pulled them from obscurity and used them as a weapon to prevent claims that we were exporting SSM. They have not prevented heterosexual couples from marrying here when their marriages (like first cousins) would be valid here but not in their home states.
As Stover so aptly puts it, "My personal feeling is I believe if the law is going to be applied it should be applied even-handedly. It’s all or nothing."
I have repeatedly called for Gov. Deval Patrick and the legislative leaders to knock off these disgraceful laws, like here. Democratic Party officials and even some marriage-equality advocates begged to defer action until the amendment to overturn Goodridge went down. It did in June and these warts on our legal face remain.
Meanwhile, Batt has asked for a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the statutes. That might prod the sleeping General Court to do its duty on this.
In lieu of that, Coakley's office has until April to respond to the suit, which could bring arguments in the fall of 2008. I see no reason for her not to file saying there was no reason to enforce the laws, leading to an injunction and either the SJC ruling the laws invalid or the legislature showing some guts.
It's past time, plus, I have friends from out of state eager to have me perform their weddings.
Tags: massmarrier, Massachusetts, same-sex marriage, 1913 Laws, Deval Patrick, Coakley, SJC, town clerks