Originally published on Advocate.com September 18 2004 12:00 AM ET
Out-of-state gay couples barred from getting married in Massachusetts are hoping the state's highest court will take up their appeal and reverse the lower court ruling that denied their request to stop enforcement of a 1913 law being used to block their unions. The law, which some say was written to be used against interracial couples, denies out-of-state couples the right to marry if their union would be illegal in their home state. Since same-sex weddings became legal in Massachusetts in May, state officials have used the law to stop nonresident couples from going there to get married.
Superior court judge Carol Ball ruled in August that the law is not discriminatory despite a concern that it violates the spirit of the state's landmark same-sex marriage decision. Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, representing eight out-of-state gay couples, filed a notice of appeal Thursday and planned to ask the supreme judicial court to use its discretion to hear the case directly. Initial reviews usually are heard by an appeals court. GLAD attorney Michele Granda said she's confident the court will ultimately provide basic fairness to these couples. "Massachusetts has never had a fence of discrimination at its border, and it shouldn't start now," Granda said. "Massachusetts law shouldn't be used as a weapon to deny rights."
Corey Welford, spokesman for Atty. Gen. Thomas Reilly, declined comment on the appeal. The supreme judicial court is the same court that in November paved the way for the nation's first state-sanctioned same-sex marriages when it ruled that gay and lesbian couples could not be denied marriage licenses. Same-sex couples from outside Massachusetts were blocked in their efforts to marry when Gov. Mitt Romney invoked the 1913 law and instructed city and town clerks not to issue licenses to nonresident gay couples.