- The Washington Times - Monday, March 3, 2003

The highest court in Massachusetts is scheduled to hold a hearing tomorrow on a lawsuit that many believe could lead to the legalization of homosexual "marriage" in that state.
The lawsuit, Goodridge v. Massachusetts Department of Public Health, is "very important," said Evan Wolfson, executive director of the Freedom to Marry Collaboration in New York City, which promotes same-sex "marriage."
"It's about seven couples with compelling stories and compelling needs for the protections that come with marriage, and they're before the high court of a very important state. We hope that they will get a fair hearing and this discrimination will end," Mr. Wolfson said.
There's "extraordinary support" for the plaintiffs, he added, with every major Massachusetts law firm, law schools from around the world and a host of other groups filing friend-of-the-court briefs for them.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is perceived as liberal and thus favorable to the homosexual plaintiffs.
However, supporters of traditional family values still think the eight justices could decide in their favor.
"The court may surprise everybody and rule against the gay litigants because the law is very clear about what marriage is," said Robert Knight, who studies homosexual issues at Concerned Women for America.
A number of people including the attorneys general of Utah, South Dakota and Nebraska have filed briefs to support Massachusetts and its marriage laws.
"We believe we did our homework. We have given [the justices] all the ammunition they need to rule in favor of a traditional definition of marriage," said Ron Crews, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute in Newton Upper Falls, Mass.
At tomorrow's hearing, officials with the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General will argue that there is no "right to marry" for same-sex couples in the state constitution. Mary Bonauto and Jennifer Levi of the Gay & Lesbian Defenders and Advocates, who represent Julie and Hillary Goodridge and the other six homosexual couples, will argue that the state constitution guarantees equality in such things as civil marriage.
The high court ruling, which cannot be appealed, is expected in early summer.
Matt Daniels, executive director of the Alliance for Marriage, says a decision for the plaintiffs in Massachusetts has national ramifications.
Their goal is to "get courts to destroy marriage as the union of male and female in one state," Mr. Daniels said. "Once they have that, they will launch an attack in the name of false constitutional arguments on the marriage laws in all 50 states and the federal DOMA," he said, referring to the Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as the union of one man and one women.
Mr. Wolfson said it was incorrect to portray the Massachusetts case as "some kind of chess game where we're trying to grab a decision and run it somewhere else."
"This is about real people who are truly seeking to take on the commitment of marriage," he said. However, he added, homosexual couples "married" in Massachusetts "will of course expect to be treated like other married couples." That could mean legal challenges in other states, he said, "because America should not be a house divided, playing 'now you're married, now you're not,' depending on what state you're in."
As a way to trump court decisions, Mr. Daniels' group is proposing that marriage be defined in the U.S. Constitution, while Mr. Crews and his allies are working for a similar amendment in the Massachusetts Constitution.

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