uua news

 Contents: UU World Back Issue

UUs celebrate marriage decision

by Jane Greer

Unitarian Universalists rejoiced when Massachusetts' highest court ruled that the state constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry. But the ruling also galvanized opponents across the country, who vowed to block or reverse the decision through political action at both the state and federal levels. The landmark decision promises to elevate the issue of same-sex marriage in the 2004 presidential campaign.

Seven of the fourteen plaintiffs whose suit led to the November ruling are Unitarian Universalists, including Hillary Goodridge who is also director of the grant-making Unitarian Univer­salist Funding Program. She and her partner Julie Goodridge are the named plaintiffs in the suit against the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the agency responsible for issuing marriage licenses.

Speaking at a press conference shortly after the ruling was released, Hillary said,“This is a profound moment for our family. We will no longer have to try to explain to our 8-year-old daughter why we can't marry, or that we love each other even though we are not married. And more importantly, we'll be able to provide Annie with the full protections under marriage that we now can't possibly provide no matter how many legal documents we draft and sign.”

Powerful political figures in both parties in Massachusetts, including Republican Governor Mitt Romney, are supporters of an amendment to the state constitution that would limit marriage to a man and a woman. The state legislature adjourned the day after the ruling but already discussion of a compromise, an amendment to create civil unions—already legal in Vermont for same-sex couples—was gaining adherents.

The Massachusetts ruling is viewed as a major victory by advocates of same-sex marriage, who take heart that under the state constitution, the soonest an amendment could reach voters is 2006. Under the decision, same-sex couples would be entitled to the hundreds of legal rights given to heterosexual married couples, including the power to make medical decisions for a spouse, access to family members during hospitalization, the right to transfer property, and the joint filing of tax returns.

The Unitarian Universalist Association has long been vocal in its support of gay marriage. UUA President William G. Sinkford was interviewed by the Associated Press, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and Boston Phoenix shortly after news of the Court's decision broke.

The Goodridges and the six other Massachusetts couples brought the lawsuit against the state in 2001 after they went to their respective town halls to apply for marriage licenses and were refused. The case was taken on by the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD). Six of the other plaintiffs are members of UU congregations.

 Contents: UU World Back Issue
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