Massachusetts House votes to repeal 1913 law limiting same-sex marriages

Massachusetts House votes to repeal 1913 law limiting same-sex marriages

[JURIST] The Massachusetts House of Representatives [official website] Tuesday voted 119-36 for a bill [HB 1710 petition, PDF] that would repeal a 1913 law barring people from marrying in Massachusetts if their own state would not recognize such a union. The state's Senate passed the bill [JURIST report] earlier this month and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick [official website] has said he will sign it into law when it reaches his desk. The original statute [text] gained attention because it has the effect of preventing most out-of-state same-sex couples from marrying in Massachusetts because most states do not allow the unions. In 2006, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts upheld the 1913 law [JURIST report] in Cote-Whitacre v. Department of Public Health [opinion, PDF] against a legal challenge, but the new law will take precedence if enacted. AP has more.

Massachusetts and California [JURIST news reports] are the only two US states to formally recognize same-sex marriages, and if Tuesday's bill is signed into law, neither state will impose residency restrictions on couples. Many states have banned same-sex unions through statutes or amendments, but several states besides Massachusetts and California do permit same-sex civil unions [JURIST news archive]. In May, New York Governor David Paterson ordered [memo, PDF; JURIST report] that state agencies recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages as legal marriages in New York.