- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 30, 2006

Two Rhode Island lesbians can legally “marry” in Massachusetts because their home state doesn’t have any laws or court rulings that prohibit such unions, Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Thomas Connolly ruled yesterday.

Homosexual rights advocates quickly interpreted the ruling to mean that homosexual couples in two states can now “marry” in Massachusetts.

The “wall of discrimination has been removed at the border of Massachusetts and Rhode Island,” said Lee Swislow, executive director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, which represented plaintiffs Wendy Becker and Mary Norton, of Providence, R.I.

“With this ruling, Rhode Island couples can now marry in Massachusetts,” said Marc Solomon, campaign director of MassEquality.

Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly said he would not “appeal or seek a stay” of Judge Connolly’s ruling because it was “a waste of time and resources.” He added that Rhode Island can address the ruling “as it sees fit.”

Rhode Island officials said yesterday their state was unaffected by the ruling.

“At the end of the day, it will be Rhode Island state officials and the Rhode Island state court system who will decide the meaning of Rhode Island laws on marriage. We will not cede that responsibility to a court in another state,” said Jeff Neal, spokesman for Gov. Donald L. Carcieri, a Republican.

No same-sex “marriage” case is pending in Rhode Island, he added. “So, at this stage, it’s not clear that this Massachusetts court decision has any real impact for the state of Rhode Island.”

The ruling “does not authorize same-sex marriages in Rhode Island and it does not mean that Rhode Island will recognize a same-sex marriage performed in Massachusetts,” Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch said.

For an outside court “to say that our constitution and our laws allow [same-sex ‘marriage’] is indeed usurping our own state constitution and inflicting their will upon us,” said Raymond T. McKay, president of the Rhode Island Republican Assembly, a political action committee. “That is just incorrect and wrong to do.”

In 2004, Miss Becker and Miss Norton tried to “marry” in Massachusetts but were told they couldn’t because a 1913 Massachusetts law forbids issuing marriage licenses to out-of-state couples if they cannot marry in their home states.

The women and other couples filed a lawsuit to overturn the 1913 law. In March, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld the law, but instructed the lower court to verify whether homosexual plaintiffs from New York and Rhode Island were, in fact, prohibited from “marrying” in their home states.

Judge Connolly said the New York Court of Appeals clarified the issue when it ruled in July that it was constitutional to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, but Rhode Island lacked court rulings and laws. Thus, “same-sex marriage is prohibited in New York and is not prohibited in Rhode Island,” he wrote.

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