Provincetown Life Information

Timeline of same sex marriage in Massachusetts

Published: Mon April 03, 2006
By: Straight Dope in Life > Relationships
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Associated Press

Some important dates in the history of the gay marriage debate in Massachusetts:

Nov. 18, 2003 - The SJC rules it is unconstitutional to bar gay couples from marriage, and gives the Legislature 180 days to come up with a solution to allow gays to wed. President Bush, in a visit to London, criticizes the decision and vows to work with Congress to “defend the sanctity of marriage.”

Feb. 4, 2004 - Acting on a request from state lawmakers, the SJC clarifies its earlier ruling, saying only full, equal marriage rights for gay couples - rather than civil unions - are constitutional.

Feb. 11, 2004 - Massachusetts Legislature opens constitutional convention with debate on a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage and adjourned a day later deadlocked, after failing to pass three separate proposed bans on same-sex marriage.

March 29, 2004 - State Legislature approves proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage but legalize Vermont-style civil unions.

March 31, 2004 - State Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly says gay marriage will apply only to Massachusetts residents because of a 1913 state law that prevents out-of-staters from getting married in Massachusetts if they are ineligible for marriage in the state where they live.

May 4, 2004 - Gov. Mitt Romney’s top legal adviser warned city and town clerks that issuing marriage licenses to out-of-state gay couples will make the marriages void and could result in legal repercussions for the clerks.

May 17, 2004 - Marriages of gay couples begin in Massachusetts.

May 18, 2004 - Romney’s administration demands copies of all marriage-license applications filled out by gay couples in Provincetown and three other cities that openly defied the residency requirement for same-sex marriages.

May 19, 2004 - The Democrat-controlled state Senate votes overwhelmingly to repeal the 1913 law that Romney used to bar out-of-state gay couples from marrying in Massachusetts. The repeal died after it left the Senate.

May 24, 2004 - Reilly issues cease and desist orders telling clerks to stop issuing marriage licenses to out-of-state gay couples.

June 18, 2004 - Eight couples and more than a dozen municipal clerks file lawsuits challenging the 1913 law used to block out-of-state gay couples from marrying in Massachusetts.

July 13, 2004 - A lawyer for the out-of-state couples asked a superior court judge for an injunction blocking the state from enforcing the 1913 law, saying it violates both the U.S. Constitution and Massachusetts law.

August 18, 2004 - Superior Court Judge Carol Ball rejected the challenge to the 1913 law barring out-of-state gay couples from marrying.

October 6, 2005 - A lawyer for the out-of-state couples argued before the SJC that the 1913 law “sat on the shelf” unused for decades until it was “dusted off” by Romney.

March 30 - The Massachusetts high court rules that nonresident gays cannot marry in the state.

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