Massachusetts court extends deadline on gay marriage ruling

Posted on 16 Feb 2006 at 8:03pm
By Associated Press

Decision will determine if couples from other states can marry there

BOSTON The state’s highest court has waived a self-imposed deadline for ruling whether same-sex couples from other states can marry in Massachusetts.

The Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments on Oct. 6 about a 1913 state law that says that out-of-state couples cannot get married in Massachusetts if their home states do not recognize such unions.

The court notified lawyers on Feb. 9 that it would not issue a decision within the 130-day window, according to the court’s Web site.

Lawyers noted that the court also went past its deadline in its historic 4-3 ruling that legalized gay marriage in 2003.

“It could be due to a multiplicity of issues, including the court’s own backlog,” Mark D. Mason, president-elect of the Massachusetts Bar Association, told The Republican of Springfield, Mass.

Eight gay couples from surrounding states, all of whom were denied marriage licenses in Massachusetts, are challenging the 1913 law. If the court strikes it down, same-sex couples from across the country could come here to wed and demand marriage rights at home.

After same-sex marriage became legal in May 2004, Governor Mitt Romney ordered city and town clerks to enforce the 1913 law and wrote to every other governor in the nation that out-of-state gay couples would not be allowed to marry in Massachusetts.

The eight couples who sued are from Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and New York.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of February 17, 2006.

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