Friday, September 29, 2006

Rhode Island Gay Couples Can Marry

In what the Boston Globe is calling a "significant victory for gay rights advocates", Judge Thomas Connelly has ruled that gay and lesbian couples in Rhode Island can legally Massachusetts.

The ruling by Judge Thomas Connolly is the first to find that same-sex couples from outside Massachusetts may wed under the Supreme Judicial Court's 2003 ruling that legalized same-sex weddings in the Massachusetts.

GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders) has released a statement containing few details. Judge Thomas Connelly ruled that Rhode Island’s laws do not explicitly prohibit same-sex marriages.

“At last the fence of discrimination has been removed at the border of Massachusetts and Rhode Island,” said Michele Granda, the GLAD attorney who represented plaintiffs Wendy Becker and Mary Norton of Providence.

Governor Romney has tried to prevent out of state same-sex couples from marrying in Massachusetts by reviving a racist law from 1913. This law says that couples from other states cannot marry in Massachusetts if their home state would not legally recognize the marriage.

However, in March of this year the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decided that only couples from states with no “express prohibition” against marriage in their home state could marry here.

That is when Wendy Becker and Mary Norton of Providence, R.I., went to court. They argued that the 1913 law that forbids out-of-state residents from marrying in Massachusetts did not apply to them because Rhode Island does not specifically ban gay marriage.

Attorney General Thomas Reilly, who had defended the 1913 law in court, said officials in Rhode Island could challenge the decision, but said his office would not appeal.

"In Massachusetts," Reilly said in a statement, "pursuing this matter further in the courts would be a waste of time and resources."

Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute had this to say, "This creates a new level of legal chaos for regulators and lawmakers in the state of Rhode Island and any state that does not expressly forbid same sex marriage. It also furthers the notion of Massachusetts becoming the Las Vegas of gay marriage."

The anti-gay organization Vote On Marriage has sent out an email alert. They are furious with the court's ruling. My favorite line in their emails states, "Already Massachusetts is the laughing stock of the nation for our far-left policies and disregard for the will of the people, and now we're impacting other states."


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