Thirteen Massachusetts legislators asked the state's highest court on Tuesday to reverse its November decision legalizing same-sex marriage, a ruling that the same court reaffirmed in February. The lawmakers, represented by the conservative American Center for Law and Justice, argued that the supreme judicial court lacked jurisdiction in the case under the state constitution. Instead, they said, it is the legislature and governor who are entitled to determine marriage laws. "We all believe the courts went beyond their authority," said Rep. Robert Correia. "I want a court that's going to operate under the laws of the commonwealth." Attorney Mary Bonauto, who represented seven gay couples in their landmark quest for marriage rights, said the question of jurisdiction had been raised when the case was decided by a superior court judge in 2001, when the high court heard arguments in 2003, and when the same court reaffirmed its decision in February. "And there's a reason it's gone nowhere: It has no merit," Bonauto said. "The court always has the power to review and decide whether the legislature or executive has overstepped its boundaries."
The lawmakers said they had to resort to filing a lawsuit after the attorney general refused to sign on to Gov. Mitt Romney's request to ask the high court for a stay of the marriages for same-sex couples, which are scheduled to begin on May 17. The legislature recently gave preliminary approval to a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage while simultaneously legalizing civil unions; if the proposal is approved by the next legislative session, it would go to voters in November 2006.
The American Center for Law and Justice is a law firm founded by televangelist Pat Robertson.