Federal Court Sets Hearing in Massachusetts Same-Sex Marriage Case

May 11, 2004

BOSTON, MA - Liberty Counsel filed a federal lawsuit yesterday against the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and all of the City and Town Clerks in Massachusetts to prevent the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses. Federal District Judge Joseph Tauro will hear the case on Wednesday, May 12 at 11:00 a.m.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Robert Largess, a Boston citizen and Vice-President of the Catholic Action League, asks the federal court to issue a Temporary Restraining Order to stop the enforcement of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's ruling establishing same-sex marriage, which is scheduled to go into effect next Monday, May 17, 2004.

The lawsuit argues that the Court's decision violates the Guarantee Clause, Article 4, Section 4, of the United States Constitution, which guarantees that every state will have a republican form of government. The Massachusetts Constitution gives the Governor and the Legislature authority over marriage. The Massachusetts Supreme Court violated the Guarantee Clause by redefining marriage.

Over the years, the Legislature has granted the courts limited power to hear cases involving divorce, annulment, affirmation and alimony. If a marriage case does not fit within these categories, the Court is without power to hear the case. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court violated the principle of separation of powers, embodied in the Guarantee Clause, when it redefined marriage to include same-sex couples.

Mat Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, stated, "We are pleased that the federal court will hear this case very quickly. The Supreme Judicial Court clearly overstepped its authority and usurped the power of the Legislature to define marriage." Staver continued, "The federal courts are obligated to step in to ensure that Massachusetts is following the basic principle of separation of powers that is vital to our system of law and government."

Joining Liberty Counsel in the lawsuit are the Citizens for the Preservation of Constitutional Rights, The Thomas More Law Center and the AFA Center for Law & Policy.

Updates will be posted online at http://www.lc.org/news