Tuesday, November 18, 2003

"The question before us is whether, consistent with the Massachusetts Constitution, the Commonwealth may deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry.

"We conclude that it may not." - Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.

Well, this is something to wake up to! Obviously, it's still gonna be a tough fight - the Court ruled that "entry of judgment shall be stayed for 180 days to permit the Legislature to take such action as it may deem appropriate in light of this opinion." Which means that no marriage licenses will be issued (much like what happened in Vermont), and the State Legislature there is already considering a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. But I've seen no news source explaining the legal rational for this "stay" (I understand it politically - the Court is thinking, sure, this is the right thing, but WOAH! these folks are gonna freak, so let's just give them a chance to digest this). It's scarey and exciting, eh? And it could wind up like Alaska or Hawaii (where the Legislature wound up adopting a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage) but for the moment, it's hard not to get excited about language like this:

"Barred access to the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage, a person who enters into an intimate, exclusive union with another of the same sex is arbitrarily deprived of membership in one of our community's most rewarding and cherished institutions. That exclusion is incompatible with the constitutional principles of respect for individual autonomy and equality under law," it stated.