Friday, May 21, 2004
Town clerks instructed on new marriage regulations
On Wednesday, May 12, I attended the state-sponsored training on the new marriage laws that took effect on Monday, May 17, 2004. There were presenters from both Governor Romney's office and from the Commonwealth's Registry of Vital Statistics.
The presentation described the Judicial Court decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health. On November 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) declared that "barring an individual from the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts Constitution." The SJC issued a 180-day stay before entry of judgment "to permit the Legislature to take such action as it may deem necessary in light of this opinion." On Sunday, May 16, 2004, this stay expired.
Beginning May 17, Notices of Intention of Marriage for all couples will be done on the revised forms. The changes to the revised forms include the following. The designation of applicants as "Bride" and "Groom" has been replaced with "Party A" and "Party B". The applicants can decide which party is A and which party is B. The location of the age field has changed. Applicants must now state both where they reside and where they intend to reside. If a person lives and intends to reside in another state or jurisdiction and cannot legally get married in that state or jurisdiction, their marriage shall be null and void. At this time Massachusetts is the only state or jurisdiction that allows marriage between same sex couples. Civil unions and domestic partnership involvement — both parties must indicate whether they are involved in one, but such involvement does not preclude their marriage. The titles for the parents of each party on the intentions now read "Name Father/Parent" and "Name Mother/Parent." It is now required that each party confirm whether they are male or female. Consanguinity and affinity — both parties must now confirm whether they are related to each other by blood or marriage.
Residence in Massachusetts
Massachusetts town clerks are now required to "satisfy themselves" that the parties live in Massachusetts or intend to reside here, since this is the only state that allows same sex marriages. I will continue our practice of asking for driver's licenses as identification and will evaluate out of state residents as the need arises. If applicants state that they neither live in Massachusetts nor intend to reside here, they will fill out the Notice of Intention of Marriage, but will be denied a Marriage License.
The Massachusetts Constitution has not been amended; however, the Legislature has passed an amendment that would declare that marriage is only the union of one man and one woman, and would give two persons of the same sex the right to form a civil union if they meet the requirements set forth by law for marriage. This would need to be voted on in the next legislative session, and the bill must pass in order for the proposed amendment to be presented to voters in the November 2006 election.
We will continue to issue marriage licenses with dignity and respect according to Massachusetts General Law. We will also continue the practice of allowing couples to fill out the various forms in the privacy of the Parlin Room in Town Hall.
© 2004 The