Marriage in the Dock

Massachusetts case on gay marriage could set off chain reaction.

If the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court overturns a ban on homosexual marriage, traditional family supporters predict that activists will use the ruling as a wedge to force the rest of the country to accept legalization of same-sex marriage. A decision is expected this summer.

In March the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments in Goodridge v. Massachusetts Department of Public Health, in which seven same-sex couples claim they have a fundamental, constitutional right to marry. Four of the couples are raising children.

The plaintiffs—eight women and six men—lost an opening round a year ago when Suffolk Superior Judge Thomas E. Connolly denied them a right to marriage licenses. The judge, citing the marriage laws and traditions of Massachusetts and the nation, said only the state legislature is empowered to make such profound changes. The couples appealed to the top Massachusetts court.

Matt Daniels is president of the Springfield, Virginia-based Alliance for Marriage, which supports traditional marriage. Daniels predicts that same-sex activists will prevail—if not in Massachusetts, then in similar cases pending in New Jersey or Indiana. "Once we lose, they will file suits in every state," Daniels said.

Massachusetts Citizens for Marriage, another traditional marriage advocate, filed suit in January with the Supreme Judicial Court. The group demanded that a state amendment defining marriage as "the union of one man and one woman" be sent directly to the legislature. Last year lawmakers adjourned without voting on the measure. The session ended even though the organization had gathered enough signatures to require a statewide ballot initiative vote.

'Hijacking' a movement


Evan Wolfson, executive director of the ...

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