Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Recognized Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry

Ruling in Goodridge v. Department of Health Rejects Notion of “Gay Exception” to State Constitution’s Declaration of Rights

Statement of People For the American Way Foundation President Ralph G. Neas on the ruling. PFAWF joined an amicus curiae brief in the case urging the court to recognize equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“In a landmark decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has recognized the inherent discrimination in denying equal marriage rights to same-sex couples. This is not only a victory for gay and lesbian couples in Massachusetts, but also an important affirmation of the changing attitudes toward equal rights for all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation.

Rulings like this one and the decision earlier this year by the U.S. Supreme Court overturning state sodomy laws demonstrate America’s progress toward equal rights for all. Our neighbors to the north — after courts in Canada ruled in favor of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples there — are embracing such rights nationwide. In sharp contrast, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has expressed support for the radical step of amending the U.S. Constitution to forever ban same-sex marriage in this country, a move that would mark the first time the U.S. Constitution has been amended to require discrimination. In addition, President Bush has endorsed intolerance by supporting the Religious Right’s so-called ‘Marriage Protection Week.’

Equal marriage rights mean equal economic and legal protections and benefits for gay and lesbian couples — and for their children. Today’s ruling means that same-sex couples and their families will no longer be treated as second class citizens in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, this decision is likely to trigger a reaction of intolerance from the far-right. We have already heard their false claims that such a decision will require faith communities to marry same-sex couples. Nothing could be further from the truth. This decision will not require faith communities to give religious blessing to same-sex couples but will require Massachusetts to provide the same protections to all families under civil law. The First Amendment clearly prohibits government from requiring any faith community to marry any particular couple.

PFAW Foundation applauds this historic ruling and will continue our work in support of equality for gay men and lesbians, including equal marriage rights.”

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