Massachusetts court exceeds deadline on gay marriage ruling
July 15 2003 12:00 AM ET
Massachusetts's highest court did not issue its decision on gay marriage Monday, as many had expected, exceeding an internal--but nonbinding--deadline for considering cases. "It can be waived in cases in which the justices need more time," said supreme judicial court spokeswoman Joan Kenney. "It could be days or weeks or months." The high-profile case, which was filed by seven gay couples who were denied marriage licenses, has attracted international attention, with advocates on both sides predicting that the Massachusetts court could become the first in the nation to legalize gay marriage. Under its internal guidelines, the supreme judicial court tries to issue decisions within 130 days of hearing oral arguments, which in this case occurred on March 4. That is a nonbinding deadline, however, which court officials have repeatedly said the justices could exceed if necessary. In about 90% of cases, Kenney said, the justices meet their deadline. "But as you would expect, some cases take longer," she said.
While the court is not hearing any more cases this summer, it will continue to issue decisions throughout July and August. But there is no guarantee, Kenney said, that the gay marriage decision will be issued by the time the new session begins in September. The high court took the case on appeal from a superior court decision, which determined that nothing in the state's laws or constitution requires
Massachusetts to recognize gay marriage.