Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mass Supreme Judicial Court Decision 2003

As the Supreme Court of the United States nears a decision on the DOMA and Prop 8 cases we are reminded of Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage was first legal.

Margaret Marshall, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court from 1999 to 2010, wrote the majority opinion in the 2003 “Goodridge v. Department of Public Health” case that was the first state decision in the country to affirm marriage equality.

Excerpts from here decision are popular at weddings, at weddings of same-sex and opposite-sex couples... 
Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. “It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects.” Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.

It is undoubtedly for these concrete reasons, as well as for its intimately personal significance, that civil marriage has long been termed a “civil right.”

Without the right to marry – or more properly, the right to choose to marry – one is excluded from the full range of human experience and denied full protection of the laws for one’s “avowed commitment to an intimate and lasting human relationship.” Because civil marriage is central to the lives of individuals and the welfare of the community, our laws assiduously protect the individual’s right to marry against undue government incursion.

That same-sex couples are willing to embrace marriage’s solemn obligations of exclusivity, mutual support, and commitment to one another is a testament to the enduring place of marriage in our laws and in the human spirit.

Read more and link to the full decision at the "Here and Now" blog of Boston's NPR station.

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