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Law Barring
Nonresident Gays From Marrying in Mass. May Be Repealed

Law Barring
Nonresident Gays From Marrying in Mass. May Be Repealed

A 1913 law preventing out-of-state gay and lesbian couples from tying the knot in Massachusetts may be repealed next week.

A 1913 law preventing out-of-state gay and lesbian couples from tying the knot in Massachusetts may be repealed next week.

The antiquated law has its roots in racial bigotry -- it was originally designed to prevent interracial couples from dodging the laws in their state of origin and marrying in Massachusetts. It was quickly forgotten once interracial marriages were federally legalized.

Ninety-one years later, gay rights advocates celebrated when the Massachusetts supreme judicial court legalized same-sex marriage in 2004.

According to Marc Solomon, executive director of gay rights advocacy group Mass Equality, it was at that point that the 1913 law was "dusted off by Governor Romney in his quest to reduce the number of same-sex marriages performed [in Massachusetts]."

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney used the law, which had never been repealed, to prevent out-of-state gays and lesbians from traveling to the Bay State to wed.

May of this year marked another marriage celebration -- this time for California, which legalized same-sex marriage on May 15.

The groundbreaking decision took civil rights one step further: California had no residency requirement for the marriages. Tourists flocked (and continue to flock) to the West Coast to get hitched, bringing with them new wedding revenue, with no end in sight.

For Solomon, California's court decision was "a wake-up call -- we have one piece of unfinished business: to eliminate the residency requirement."

New York governor David Paterson has instructed the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, so some might wonder why Massachusetts hasn't recognized out-of-state marriages yet. Solomon is not worried, though. "We have the strong support of the senate speaker, the house speaker, and the governor [Deval Patrick].... I think the outcome is going to be favorable." (Hannah Clay Wareham, The Advocate)

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