February 25, 2004 Issue 40•08
BOSTON—Justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled 5-2 Monday in favor of full, equal, and mandatory gay marriages for all citizens. The order nullifies all pre-existing heterosexual marriages and lays the groundwork for the 2.4 million compulsory same-sex marriages that will take place in the state by May 15.
A justice performs a mandatory marriage.
"As we are all aware, it's simply not possible for gay marriage and heterosexual marriage to co-exist," Massachusetts Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall said. "Our ruling in November was just the first step toward creating an all-gay Massachusetts."
Marshall added: "Since the allowance of gay marriage undermines heterosexual unions, we decided to work a few steps ahead and strike down opposite-sex unions altogether."
Marshall said the court's action will put a swift end to the mounting debate.
"Instead of spending months or even years volleying this thing back and forth, we thought we might as well just cut to the eventual outcome of our decision to allow gay marriages," Marshall said. "Clearly, this is where this all was headed anyway."
The justices then congratulated the state's 4.8 million marriage-age residents on their legally mandated engagements.
The court issued the surprise order in response to a query from the Massachusetts Senate over whether Vermont-style civil unions, which convey the state-sanctioned benefits of marriage but not the title, are constitutional.
"If the history of our nation has demonstrated anything, it's that separate is never equal," Marshall said. "Therefore, any measure short of dismantling conventional matrimony and mandating the immediate homosexual marriage of all residents of Massachusetts would dishonor same-sex unions. I'm confident that this measure will be seen by all right-thinking people as the only solution to our state's, and indeed America's, ongoing marriage controversy."
Marshall then announced her engagement to Holyoke kindergarten teacher Betsy Peterson, a pairing that had been randomly generated by computers in the census office earlier that day.
A state-arranged couple from New Bedford, MA, honeymoons in Aruba.
Those who don't choose to marry in private will be married in concurrent mass ceremonies at Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium, and the Boston Convention and Exposition Center. Any citizen who is not gay-married or is still in an illegal heterosexual relationship after that date will be arrested and tried for non-support.
Hundreds of confused but vocal protesters lined the street outside the statehouse Monday night, waving both American and rainbow flags. Their chants, which broke out in pockets up and down the street, included, "Hey hey, ho ho, homophobia's got to go, but frankly, this is fucked up" and "Adam and Eve or Adam and Steve, but not Adam and Some Random Guy." Others held signs that read, "On Second Thought, Boston Christians Are Willing To Consider A Compromise."
According to police reports, demonstrators were vocal but orderly.
"The unholy union of people of the same gender destroys the only type of romantic love sanctioned by Our Lord in Heaven: the love between a man and a woman," 54-year-old protester Rose Shoults said. "Me and my new partner Helene are going to fry in hell."
The much-anticipated order sets the stage for Massachusetts' upcoming constitutional convention, where the state legislature will consider an amendment to legally define marriage as a union between two members of the same gender. Without the order, Rep. Michael Festa said the vote, and his personally dreaded wedding to House Speaker and longtime political opponent Thomas Finneran, would be delayed.
"This is a victory, not only for our state, but for America," Festa said. "Simply allowing consenting gay adults the same rights as heterosexuals was never the point. By forcing everyone in the state into a gay marriage, we're setting the stage for our more pressing hidden agendas: mandatory sodomy and, in due time, the legalization of bestiality and pedophilia."
Massachusetts has one of the highest concentrations of gay households in the country, at 1.3 percent, according to the 2000 census. Under the new laws, the figure is expected to increase by approximately 98.7 percentage points.