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Massachusetts supreme court has ruled that civil unions would be insufficient to satisfy its requirement of equal treatment for same-sex couples. The state Senate had asked the court whether Vermont-style civil unions would be okay in lieu of allowing same-sex couples to actually marry; here's the court's response:

"The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal," the four justices who ruled in favor of gay marriage wrote in the advisory opinion. A bill that would allow for civil unions, but falls short of marriage, makes for "unconstitutional, inferior, and discriminatory status for same-sex couples."

Nifty. The article also contains some details about what happens next; for example, the MA constitutional convention to consider changing the MA constitution to define marriage as consisting of one man and one woman will start next Wednesday. Such an amendment still couldn't become law until 2006, though, and the article says that the court's ruling will remain in effect until then. I suppose it's still possible that the court might suspend its ruling until any constitutional issues are resolved, but I'm hoping not; I suspect that if a constitutional amendment does go to the voters in 2006, two years of having lived with same-sex marriages without society collapsing will lead them to reject the amendment. We'll see. It might not even get that far; the legislature has to decide if it wants to propose such an amendment first.

In entirely unrelated news, Ayatollah Khamanei of Iran ("Supreme Leader of the Revolution"—great job title) has told the Iranian electoral-review council to once again reconsider their decision to ban a lot of reformers from seeking public office. But the bit of the article that particularly struck me is the last paragraph, in reference to the reformist members of parliament who have now resigned in protest:

"Evading responsibility by resigning or any other method is illegal and religiously forbidden," Khamenei said.

7 Comments

Hi Jed,

I live in Mass and the SJC hasn't given any indication so far that they would consider suspending the ruling for two years - especially since they included a 6 month waiting time provision in the original ruling.

(I'm delighted with the rulings so far, but it is an almost certainty that the legislature is going to put forth the amendment - they have already started drafting it)

on a completely unrelated topic - I am still looking for that reading list you wanted, will forward when I find it.


I suspect that if a constitutional amendment does go to the voters in 2006, two years of having lived with same-sex marriages without society collapsing will lead them to reject the amendment

The public might go along with that, but there will be significant spin from the government that collapse has happened and same-sex marriage was the cause, given the similar spin attempts with regard to Sunday liquor sales and post-Super Bowl rioting. I'd say it entirely depends on which side the Globe and Herald take a few years from now.


It looks like the Washington Post may have edited their article since you posted your entry -- it no longer contains the interesting quote from Khamanei.


Fascinating. I don't think the new final paragraph was there before, though I could be wrong:

"No prominent reformers have yet been reinstated, and there are signs that lawmakers who reclaim their offices will lose the credibility they won with Iranians impressed by their sacrifice."

I wonder what prompted the change.


Even more fascinating is that the final paragraph when I looked at the article yesterday was not the paragraph you quote here. Instead, it was something blandly factual, not analytical.

Welcome to the age of post-pub-edit journalism.


Yeah, that is nifty, Jed! Let's hear it for Massachusetts! Unfortunately, as of today Ohio sucks officially.


Hadn't heard about Ohio, Sarah; thanks for letting me know. Unfortunate.

Quote from the Forbes article about the new Ohio law, from Republican governor Bob Taft: "First and foremost, this is not a law of intolerance. I do not endorse, nor does this law provide for, discrimination against any Ohio citizen." I guess it depends on how you define discrimination.

...Oh, here's an interesting bit: "Taft said the law provided several protections, including ... a reaffirmation that churches could still perform and sanctify civil unions between same-sex couples." That's fascinating: the state government allowing churches to be more tolerant than it is. (Okay, I'm engaging in some rhetorical confusion here; the state gov't is talking about marriage, not civil union. But still.)


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