Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Proposed Marriage Amendment Can Go Forward

In Schulman v. Attorney General, 447 Mass. 189, the SJC ruled unanimously yesterday that the proposed constitutional amendment limiting marriage rights in Massachusetts can go forward. The court said, in part, that while “measures that relate to "the reversal of a judicial decision" are excluded from the initiative process,” that exclusion does not apply to “the "overruling" of the prospective application of a court decision.”

In a concurrence, Justice Greaney (with Ireland, J.) suggests that the amendment, even if passed, may be too inherently inconsistent with the provision of equal rights granted by the rest of the constitution to stand. “The only effect of a positive vote will be to make same-sex couples, and their families, unequal to everyone else; this is discrimination in its rawest form.” He further suggests that such an amendment may be overturned on Federal constitutional law grounds, citing Romer v. Evans in which a Colorado Constitutional amendment repealing all “existing statutes, regulations, ordinances, and policies of state and local entities that barred discrimination based on sexual orientation” was overturned. In that case, the US Supreme Court ruled, in part, “It is not within our constitutional tradition to enact laws of this sort. Central both to the idea of the rule of law and to our own Constitution's guarantee of equal protection is the principle that government and each of its parts remain open on impartial terms to all who seek its assistance.”

To voice your opinion before tomorrow's joint session of the Mass. legislature, see Senators and Representatives by City and Town. For more information on same-sex marriage, see Mass. Law About Same-Sex Marriage.