Massachusetts Court Says Legislature May Not Adopt Civil Unions As A Substitute For Same-Sex Marriage- The Majority of States Are Rejecting The Liberal Court Ruling

Feb 4, 2004

Orlando, FL – Today, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a 4-3 opinion stating that a proposed Senate bill creating civil unions for same-sex couples does not comply with its decision last year in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, which ruled that withholding civil marriage from same-sex couples violates the Massachusetts Constitution. Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, an international religious freedom education and litigation organization, stated that the Massachusetts legislature may now have the ammunition amend its constitutional to preserve marriage between one man and one woman.

On November 18, 2003, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a 4-3 decison stating that forbidding same-sex marriage violates the Massachusetts Constitution. The court gave the legislature 180 days to respond to the decision. Following the Goodridge ruling, the Massachusetts Senate on December 11, 2003, to the state Supreme Court Justices posing the question whether Senate No. 2175, entitled “An Act Relative To Civil Unions”, would be a permissible substitute for same-sex marriage:

Does the Senate, No. 2175, which prohibits same-sex couples from entering into marriage but allows them to form civil unions with all ‘benefits, protections, rights and responsibilities’ of marriage, complied with the equal protection and due process requirements of the Constitution of the Commonwealth in articles r1,6,7,10,12 and 16 of the Declaration of Rights?

Today four Justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court wrote that civil unions for same-sex couples still violates the state constitution. Three same three Justices who dissented in Goodridge again argued that the matter of same-sex marriage should be left to the legislature.

Staver noted, “Today’s decision requires the state legislature and the citizens of Massachusetts to confront same-sex marriage head-on. Civil unions are a compromise. Now that the Massachusetts Court ruled it will not accept anything less than same-sex marriage, the line has been drawn in the sand. The vast majority of Americans continue to believe that marriage between one man and one woman is an institution that must be preserved. The Massachusetts decision spawned a huge backlash throughout the country. At least 14 states (GA, IL, KS, KY, MD, MA, MI, MS, MO, NM, OK, UT, and WI) have filed legislation to ban same-sex marriage through a state constitutional amendment. Three other states are soon to follow (FL, MN and TX). Ohio will now become the 38th state to expressly ban same-sex marriage. Only 38 states are necessary to amend the U.S. Constitution, an effort that gained momentum since the Goodridge decision. Liberty Counsel supports such an amendment (see our statement on the Federal Marriage Amendment at As I predicted last year, the sleeping giant of the majority of Americans who believe in traditional family is awakening, and the Massachusetts decision has served only to energize this pro-family movement.”


What Can You Do to Safeguard Marriage?

On February 11, 2004, the Massachusetts legislature will convene to discuss amending the state constitution. The legislature could amend the constitution to recognize marriage only between one man and one woman. The state’s Speaker of the House, Tom Finneran, has already endorsed such an amendment. Encourage him to stand firm.

Speaker Tom Finneran
State House, Room 356
Boston, MA 02133.
Phone 617-722-2500
Email is via his comment form

Contact the Massachusetts Senate President and encourage him to support the constitutional amendment.

Senate President Robert E. Travaglini
State House, Room 330
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-1500
Email: [email protected]

A constitutional amendment is also backed by Governor Mitt Romney. Gov. Romney should stand firm especially in light of the Mass. court's opinion, and can also veto legislation that supports same-sex marriage.

State House
Office of the Governor
Room 360
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: (617) 725-4005
FAX: (617) 727-9725
Email: [email protected]

The Massachusetts Constitution can be amended by way of legislative amendment. A constitutional amendment requires two consecutive Legislatures to pass the proposed amendment by a majority vote of the senate and a two-thirds vote of the house before it will be submitted to a vote of the people. Under that procedure, the earliest the people of Massachusetts could vote on the proposed amendment would be 2006. The people can also suspend operation of a law (i.e., any law the legislature passes that grants same-sex couples the right to marry) by referendum petition. No later than 30 days after the law becomes effective, signatures of 10 qualified voters must be submitted to the secretary of the commonwealth. Then, not later than 90 days after the law becomes law, 15,000 signatures of qualified voters must be submitted. At that point, the law is suspended until such time as the people vote on the law.

Two years ago, more than 130,000 Massachusetts voters signed a petition to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Thus, obtaining a mere 15,000 signatures within 90 days after any law recognizing same-sex marriage is passed, should be an easy task.

Read Liberty Counsel's Response to the Mass. Court's Nov. 18, 2003 Goodridge Decision on Same-sex Marriage

News Reports on the Massachusetts Case -

Legal Times - 2/9/04

WorldNet Daily - 2/5/04