Massachusetts Supreme Court Okays Same-Sex Marriage

State becomes first in U.S. to require equal treatment for gay couples

| November 2003

The Massachusetts Supreme Court declared today that the state cannot bar same-sex couples from getting married. In what is being hailed as a landmark decision for gay rights, the decision said the state cannot deny the rights of civil marriage to a same-sex couple. While same-sex marriage is prohibited under the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, this decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court will extend same-sex married couples more than 1,000 federal protections and responsibilities, and could eventually lead the Defense of Marriage Act to be challenged in court.

In a press release from the Human Rights Campaign, executive director Elizabeth Birch said, 'Today, the Massachusetts Supreme Court made history. In the best tradition of our nation, that court ruled that the hard-working, tax-paying gay and lesbian citizens deserve the same rights and protections under law as other citizens of that state.' Major results from the ruling include the ability of same-sex couples to obtain a civil marriage license and have all the civil rights that go along with it, including hospital visitation, joint state tax returns, and other state law protections. The Human Rights Campaign noted that this ruling does not require religious institutions to recognize same-sex marriages. However, other states and businesses may need to recognize the civil marriages of couples married in Massachusetts.

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