Connecticut Judge Rules Massachusetts Marriage Is Null And Void In Connecticut

Apr 1, 2005

 Connecticut Judge Linda Pearce Prestley ruled that Connecticut courts have no authority to hear a request for annulment of a same-sex "civil marriage" between two Connecticut women who entered into the marriage in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and later returned to Connecticut. Judge Prestley found that Connecticut courts have no jurisdiction because the state Legislature has thus far considered same-sex marriage to be against public policy.

Massachusetts marriage laws state: "No marriage shall be contracted in this commonwealth by a party residing and intending to continue to reside in another jurisdiction if such marriage would be null and void if contracted in such other jurisdiction." Since the women who married in Provincetown were residents of Connecticut and returned to Connecticut to reside after they were married, the judge found their marriage void from the start, as it was premised upon a violation of Massachusetts law.

The Judge also relied on the case of Rosengarten v. Downes to rule that Connecticut courts lack jurisdiction to hear disputes between same-sex couples. In Rosengarten, two homosexual men entered into a civil union in Vermont. Mr. Rosengarten later filed suit in Connecticut to dissolve the Vermont civil union. Liberty Counsel intervened in the Connecticut Supreme Court in the Rosengarten case and filed a brief arguing that Connecticut courts lack jurisdiction to dissolve a Vermont civil union, because to dissolve such a union, the courts would have to recognize the validity of the union. The Rosengarten case ruled that since Connecticut does not recognize a Vermont civil union, Connecticut courts lack the authority to dissolve such a union. The same rule of law also applies to dissolving a Massachusetts same-sex marriage. The courts lack jurisdiction to act since the validity of the marriage is not recognized.

Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, stated: "State courts lack jurisdiction to dissolve a same-sex marriage when the state does not recognize the validity of such a union. A state court has no authority to dissolve a same-sex union when such a union is void and of no effect under the state law. Marriage in Connecticut remains the union of one man and one woman."