Jewish World Review Feb. 5, 2004 / 13 Shevat, 5763
Mass. high court grants 'marriage' benefits to singles
Starting May 18, single people in Massachusetts can be granted a marriage license allowing them to enjoy all of the legal and social benefits that come with the term "married," even though they remain alone.
The ruling by the state's Supreme Judicial Court comes on the same day the court declared, by a 4-3 vote, that a new law granting monogamous homosexual couples identical rights to monogamous heterosexual couples must refer to the arrangement as "marriage" rather than a civil "union."
The majority ruled that any wording which differentiates among people creates a "second class" of citizens who would be seen as inferior. Since "marriage" is the traditional, and favored, term, anything less represents "invidious discrimination" forbidden under the state constitution.
The court had decided that homosexuals would be denied not only legal protections, but would be "excluded from the full range of human experience" if they were granted anything less than full marriage benefits under a law that explicitly calls their union "marriage." In the follow-up ruling it applied the same logic to singles and groups of people of any number.
While the court previously defined marriage as "the voluntary union of two persons as spouses, to the exclusion of others," today it amended the definition.
The new definition of marriage in Massachusetts reads as follows: "a package of legal and tax benefits and restrictions, regarding procreation, child rearing and conservation of resources, granted to one or more persons who purchase a license from the state."
However, the American Civil Liberties Union has already filed a suit challenging the term "persons" as potentially discriminatory toward other species.
"We are so close now to achieving a 21st-century version of Martin Luther King's vision for America," said an unnamed ACLU spokesman. "We are speeding up that day when all people homosexuals and heterosexuals...singles, couples and small groups...sentient beings and non-sentient beings can join hands, paws or flippers in civil matrimony and sing in the words of that old African-American spiritual 'Free at last...Free at last. Thank our lucky stars we are free at last'."
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JWR contributor Scott Ott publishes the satirical website ScrappleFace.com, whose motto is "News fairly unbalanced. We report. You decipher." Comment by clicking here.
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© 2003, Scott Ott