Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Friday, March 31, 2006

Massachusetts Court Limits Same-Sex Marriage

For over two years, same-sex marriages have been permissible in Massachusetts.

Yesterday (March 30, 2006), the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court released it opinion in Cote-Whitacre v. Department of Public Health,  SJC-09436, upholding the validly of General Laws c. 207, § 11, which provides:

No marriage shall be contracted in this commonwealth by a party residing and intending to continue to reside in another jurisdiction if such marriage would be void if contracted in such other jurisdiction, and every marriage contracted in this commonwealth in violation hereof shall be null and void.

Thus, couples cannot come to Massachusetts from states which prohibit same-sex marriages and get married in Massachusetts.  However, couples from states that do not expressly prohibit same-sex marriages, may be able to get married in Massachusetts.

Specifically in this case,

as to the plaintiffs who reside in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, a judgment for the defendants shall enter in the Superior Court because same-sex marriage is prohibited in those States. As to the New York and Rhode Island plaintiffs, their cases shall proceed in the Superior Court, on an expedited basis, for a determination whether same-sex marriage is prohibited in those States.

See also Pam Belluck & Katie Zezima, Massachusetts Court Limits Gay Unions, NY Times, March 31, 2006.


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