Same-Sex Couples Sue to Marry in Massachusetts
Seven same-sex couples filed suit Wednesday to be allowed to marry in Massachusetts, less than two weeks after four gay couples exchanged wedding vows in the Netherlands.
“Civil marriage is a legal relationship created by the state with all the protections and obligations that the state imposes,” such as hospital visitation privileges, health insurance, custody and the transfer of assets, said Mary Bonauto of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders.
“The relief we are seeking,” the lawyer explained, “is a declaration that . . . denying them the right to marry and the hundreds of rights and protections that accompany civil marriage is a violation of their right to equality under the Massachusetts Constitution.”
“Marriage is the one simple and equal solution to this problem of discrimination,” Bonauto said after filing the suit in Massachusetts’ Suffolk Superior Court.
She was part of the legal team that persuaded the Vermont Supreme Court that denying gays and lesbians the right to marry was discriminatory.
The court ordered Vermont’s Legislature to end the discrimination, and the Legislature came up with what has become known as the civil union law.
Under that measure, gay and lesbian couples in Vermont have virtually the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual married partners.
Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift, who spent her first full day as governor holding news conferences and meeting with officials, said she favored anti-discrimination measures but believed that marriage should be reserved for heterosexual couples.
On April 1, the Netherlands became the first nation to allow same-sex couples to marry.
The U.S. Congress in 1996 passed the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage for federal purposes as the union between a man and woman.
Thirty-five states have enacted similar laws restricting marriage to heterosexual couples, and Nevada and Nebraska have banned the recognition of civil unions.