Angiulo: Ten Years of Same-Sex Marriage in Massachusetts
Monday, May 19, 2014
What you might not know is that there wasn’t just one plaintiff in the Goodridge case. Ms. Hillary Goodridge was one of several individuals who resided in Massachusetts, had a same-sex partner in a long term relationship, and had been denied a marriage license in the Commonwealth after applying for the same. After that denial Ms. Goodridge, as well as the rest of the individual plaintiffs, filed suit in the trial court of Massachusetts. Their claims were two fold: first, that nothing in the law as drafted precluded same-sex marriage and second, that any prohibition on their choice of individual spouse was unconstitutional. The trial judge ruled against the plaintiffs, but as you probably know, the Supreme Judicial Court reversed that decision on appeal.
The fact that a court is involved in defining civil marriage should give you a hint that nuptials aren’t just about two kids in love holding hands. Marriage is, in fact, a contractual relationship between two parties that occurs only after said parties are properly licensed by the state to engage in said contract. The statutes dealing with marriage licenses are found in MGL c. 207 and there are various restrictions placed on issuance. Polygamy, certain familial ties, and age are all examples of circumstances that can result in an invalid marriage.
The plaintiffs tried to argue that nowhere in the laws did it say that same-sex marriages were prohibited and that such marriages were, therefore, lawful. Interestingly, the Goodrich court expressly rejected this view, in part, by citing the legal definition of the term “marriage” to be “the legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife.” The court’s logic then proceeded to say the licensing statute didn’t need to expressly forbid same-sex unions because the term “marriage”, up to that point, in Massachusetts did not accommodate the plaintiffs’ license applications.
Which brings us to the plaintiffs’ second argument that limiting marriage to heterosexual partners was unconstitutional. This, the court decided, was the winner because marriage is a fundamental civil right of the individual. As such, marriage is an individual liberty and equity provisions of the Massachusetts Constitution provide residents freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into “protected spheres of life and ‘freedom to’ partake in benefits created by the State for the common good.”
Among the bases for the court’s finding was a principle underlying all legislation in the Commonwealth: that laws will be applied equally to persons in similar situations. In order for there to be some legislative scheme that violates the equal protection principles there must be a “legitimate public purpose that transcends the harm to the members of the disadvantaged class.” Of all the justifications put forward by the Commonwealth, none could meet the court’s requirements.
According to the Goodrich decision, the gender of parties entering into marriage don’t matter. As long as you embrace “marriage’s solemn obligations of exclusivity, mutual support, and commitment to one another” the Massachusetts Constitution affords everyone absolute equality under the law.
Related Slideshow: Foodie Getaways in Massachusetts
Food lovers will love these destinations statewide for indulging your palate.
Vienna Historic Inn + Restaurant, Southbridge, MA
A feast for all your appetites. This historic inn is filled with old world charm, antiques, chandeliers & steins. Each room is adorned with soft music, ambience and uniqueness. You will be delighted with hard-to-find Austrian, German, Swiss, French as well local meats, seafood and vegan options. An extensive gluten-free menu available. The beer garden will be open through the end of the October.
Jewish Food Tour
Ahla Food Tours, Brookline, MA
Explore Jewish cuisine on this eye-opening 3-hour walking tour of historical Brookline and experience what TV Diner called a "fabulous Boston neighborhood tour!" and Jewish Advocate raved is "whetting the appetites of Jewish and non-Jewish diners alike". You'll taste authentic Jewish food - matzo ball soup, latkes, falafel, kosher wines, noodle kugel ice cream and dozens more. Hear unique anecdotes about the welcoming Brookline purveyors and savor the rich history of Jewish Brookline.
Blue Hills Brewery, Canton, MA
We're lucky in Massachusetts to have many microbreweries, large and small, for touring and tasting. But Blue Hills Brewery has combined its makes great tasting beers with a real educational imperative--an internship. A dream come true for beer lovers, candidates can vie for working with Blue Hills' Master Brewer Andris Veidis in a true apprenticeship. Not for the casual brewer. To learn more, check online, here. http://bluehillsbrewery.com/internship.php
Sweet Dessert Bar, Worcester, MA
A dessert lover's destination, Sweet was recently in the news for having challenged New York chef Dominique Ansel as laying claim to the invention of the cronut. Whether you're team Worcester or team NYC, enjoy Sweet's lounge chairs or sit at the bar, have a drink and watch as the chefs prepare a one of a kind dish for you. Not your average piece of cake, Sweet's appetizers and desserts are inspired by the freshest local ingredients, seasonal fruits, and artisan chocolates.
Old + New Dining
The Farm Table, Bernardston, MA
In the lush Pioneer Valley between Deerfield and the Vermont border, this remarkably restored 1800 farmhouse features cutting-edge green energy and the freshest local and regional foods seasonally available. Combine a delicious sojourn with holiday shopping at Kringle Candle and Kringle Christmas Barn.
Fried Clam Pilgrimage
Woodman's of Essex, Essex, MA
Keep summer alive year-round by making a pilgrimage to this institution that is counting down to its 100-year anniversary. Go for the fried clams, because that's what was invented here on July 3rd, 1916. Lawrence "Chubby" Woodman, at the humorous suggestion of a friend, fried up a few clams at his roadside stand in Essex, Massachusetts and the original fried clams were born.
East Dennis Oyster Farm, Cape Cod, MA
If you think oysters are a summer pleasure, you're right but you're wrong. Late October and November yield some of the best oysters, so consider bundling up and heading to the Cape for a tour of John and Stephanie Lowell's farm on the tidal flats off Quivett Neck. To make an appointment for a tour, go here.
Hit the Trail
Massachusetts Wine + Cheese Trail
A wine and cheese trail in Massachusetts? That’s right, the Bay State features 40 licensed wineries, producing wine from a collection of locally grown fruits – grapes, apples, cranberries, peaches, and blueberries – across, roughly, a total of 2,200-acres of wine farm land, where 439 acres are devoted exclusively to wine production. You can download a map and pick up the trail at any place, exploring small and pristine providers.
Wine in the City
City Wine Tours, Cambridge, MA
Want an urban oenophelia adventure? City Wine Tours is the perfect gateway to enjoying Boston's vibrant wine culture and best restaurants. Sip, savor, and explore as we take you on a walking tour through Boston's most historic neighborhoods, with stops at award-winning restaurants, luxury hotels and gourmet wine shops. Cheers.
A New Kind of Crawl
Dishcrawl Pioneer Valley, Springfield, MA
You love a pub crawl? How about a restaurant crawl? The foodies at Dishcrawl aim to provide you with Pioneer Valley's premier culinary social experience by bringing together neighborhood restaurants, local chefs, regional food producers and fellow food enthusiasts. Join for a one-of-a-kind gastronomic adventure! Check out next week's All Hallows Eve crawl in Amherst, MA.