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Gay Marriage Laws in Massachusetts


On May 17, 2004, the debate over gay marriage in Massachusetts finally ended. Massachusetts made history on a grand scale by becoming the first state in the U.S. to legally grant Massachusetts gay couples the rights, and respect of full marriage equality.

Thanks to the landmark Goodridge v. Department of Public Health case, a 4–3 ruling was brought to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on November 18, 2003, which found that the state of Massachusetts may not, under any circumstance, "deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry." While the idea of civil unions for the Massachusetts gay community had been the first consideration, the court also ruled that civil unions would not meet the requirements that the Goodridge case established.

So, in the end, the court decided that full marriage rights for the Massachusetts gay community would become legal. And the rest, as they say, truly is history. Massachusetts became a prime example of a liberal democracy at work, respecting rights for all of it's residents regardless of sexual preference. Over 6,000 gay and lesbian partners would be married in the first 6 months of the new law alone, kicking off the newly instated privilege of gay marriage in Massachusetts with a real bang.

In another milestone decision for the state, on July 31, 2008, Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill that revoked an old law, dating back to 1913, that was used to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples from other states, unless they had plans to reside in Massachusetts. With the new law, however, homosexual couples from anywhere in the world can officially marry in the state of Massachusetts without necessarily intending to reside in Massachusetts.

Although there have indeed been efforts to appeal the court's decision to allow gay marriage in Massachusetts by amending the state's constitution, the most recent being in the year 2007, all efforts have successfully been defeated, and for now, the Massachusetts gay community can enjoy the freedom of marrying their partners if they so desire.

That is not to say that gay marriage in Massachusetts is flawless, though. Due to the fact that federal law currently states that marital benefits are only received in heterosexual marriages, there is still has plenty room for improvement. Over 1,000 marital benefits still remain unavailable to married Massachusetts gay couples.

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