News Brief: Sharply-divided Supreme Judicial Court supports gay marriage

BY CLINTON DICK

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court made history on Wednesday when it held that “barring an individual from the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts Constitution.” The court gave the Massachusetts Legislature 180 days “to take such action as it may deem appropriate in light of this opinion.”

The court said the Massachusetts Constitution “affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals,” and “forbids the creation of second-class citizens.” The three dissenters said the marriage statute does not violate the state constitution because “the Legislature could rationally conclude that it furthers the legitimate State purpose of ensuring, promoting, and supporting an optimal social structure for the bearing and raising of children.”

The 4-3 decision was met with both praise and scorn across the nation. Hillary Goodridge, one of the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said in a Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders press release: “This is a profound moment for our family. We will no longer have to try to explain to our eight-year-old daughter why we can’t marry, or that we love each other even though we are not married.”

But others were not so thrilled. According to the New York Times, Tom Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council said “it is inexcusable for this court to force the state legislature to ‘fix’ its state constitution to make it comport with the pro-homosexual agenda of four court justices.”

President Bush said in a statement: “Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman. Today’s decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court violates this important principle. I will work with congressional leaders and others to do what is legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage.”

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