Tuesday, November 18, 2003

9/10th Victory

First, Trish Wilson has commentary. She was at the hearings.

Slybog has more.

Here's the key paragraph:

The question before us is whether, consistent with the Massachusetts Constitution, the Commonwealth may deny the protections, benefits, and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry. We conclude that it may not. The Massachusetts Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens. In reaching our conclusion we have given full deference to the arguments made by the Commonwealth. But it has failed to identify any constitutionally adequate reason for denying civil marriage to same-sex couples.

It appears to me there's a slight bit of weasel wording here. One sentence refers to the "benefits, and obligations conferred by civil marriage" while one refers to civil marriage itself.

It isn't clear how important this distinction is. Perhaps the lawyers can chime in. But, aside from Massachusetts, the issue is whether other states would be constitutionally required to honor marriage - and whether having it be marriage by another name provides a legal 'out' for this.

But, anyway, the legislature has 180 days to do something about it. Lord knows if they'll even have the guts to touch it, or whether they'll punt it back up to the courts.

...now's an appropriate moment to remember the words of gay civil rights advocate, Dick Cheney:

The fact of the matter is we live in a free society, and freedom means freedom for everybody. We don’t get to choose, and shouldn’t be able to choose and say, 'You get to live free, but you don’t.' And I think that means that people should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into. It’s really no one else’s business in terms of trying to regulate or prohibit behavior in that regard.

The next step, then, of course, is the question you ask of whether or not there ought to be some kind of official sanction, if you will, of the relationship, or if these relationships should be treated the same way a conventional marriage is. That’s a tougher problem. That’s not a slam dunk.

I think the fact of the matter, of course, is that matter is regulated by the states. I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions, and that’s appropriate. I don’t think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area.

I try to be open-minded about it as much as I can, and tolerant of those relationships... I also wrestle with the extent to which there ought to be legal sanction of those relationships. I think we ought to do everything we can to tolerate and accommodate whatever kind of relationships people want to enter into.

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