Judge rules Massachusetts must allow Rhode Island same-sex couple to marry

[JURIST] A state trial court judge in Boston ruled Friday that two women from Rhode Island may marry in Massachusetts [JURIST news archive] despite the Commonwealth's 1913 statute [text] forbidding the marriage of couples who can't legally wed in their home states. Judge Thomas Connolly of Suffolk Superior Court ruled [opinion, PDF] that Rhode Island does not expressly prohibit same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive] through its state constitution, statutes or appellate court decisions. Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly [official website], who said he did not plan to appeal the ruling, had argued [AG brief] that gender-specific terms in Rhode Island's marriage-related statutes [text] showed lawmakers' intent to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples. The plaintiffs, Mary Norton and Mary Becker [GLAD profiles], sued after they were denied a marriage license on the basis of the 1913 law. Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) [advocacy website], which represented the women [JURIST report], praised the decision [press release] as "as another step toward marriage equality."

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled on the case in June, holding [JURIST report] that couples from Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont could be barred from marrying in the Commonwealth, but remanding the issue involving New York and Rhode Island residents to the Superior Court. Whether Rhode Island will recognize a same-sex marriage performed elsewhere is uncertain, but state Attorney General Patrick Lynch suggested in a 2004 opinion [text] that it would unless "unless doing so would run contrary to the strong public policy of this State." AP has more. The Boston Globe has local coverage.

 

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