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March 29, 2004



Have there been any articles written covering what will happen to gays who marry in the interim? What kind of status would adoption of an amendment leave these couples in?

This has been bothering me and I haven't seen anything in the national press (I'm in NY) that covers this aspect of the debate. It seems there's such a long time between now and '06 for things to get very complicated.


I can't point you to any article about the issue. I do know that the legislators at one point considered an amendment almost identical to the one moved forward except that it had a clause about retroactively turning same-sex marriages into civil unions should it pass. Many legislators objected to this language and so it was removed. That would lead me to believe that those couples married in the interim would still have their marriages recognized.

On the other hand the final text of the proposed amendment does read "only the union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in the commonwealth". That might indicate that Massachusetts would no longer recognize those unions as "marriages". I doubt, though, that a Massachusetts court would even reach this question. Since the union could still be recognized as a "civil union" with the same consequences (at least within the commonwealth), a Massachusetts court has no need to decide the matter. In general, I believe Massachusetts would also continue to recognize foreign same-sex marriages, it would just recognize them as "civil unions"--again no legal difference within Massachusetts. The only possible question I could see arising is does the court have the power to grant a "divorce" or a "dissolution" to these marriages. I am guessing the court could still grant "divorces", in order to ensure the marriage is legally ended.

The other question that remains is how would other jurisdictions treat the marriages after 2006--should the amendment actually pass which is not at all clear. I'm guessing the amendment will make no difference in the way these marriages are treated. The couples are still legally married. Only death, divorce, or an annulment could end their marriage and the amendment does none of this.

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