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.