quasi in rem

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Here is the text of the proposed amendment being voted on in Massachusetts today:

"It being the public policy of this Commonwealth to protect the unique relationship of marriage, only the union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Massachusetts. Two persons of the same sex shall have the right to form a civil union if they meet the requirements set forth by law for marriage. Civil Unions for same sex couples are established hereunder and shall provide entirely the same benefits, protections, rights and responsibilities that are afforded to couples married under Massachusetts law. All laws applicable to marriage shall also apply to civil unions. This Article is self-executing, but the General Court may enact laws not inconsistent with anything herein contained to carry out the purpose of this Article."

Basically it follows the directive of the Massassachusetts Supreme Court up to the point where the word marriage is only defined as a man and a woman. Otherwise there is absolutely no difference whatsoever in the rights and recognitions of a couple.

I suppose this means that those maried in other states and countries who are not a man and a woman are not married in Massachusetts but can apply for a civil union. Similarly, insofar as federal law is concerned, this will not raise DOMA concerns as those people are not married for federal benefits purposes. Because it is state border dependent, like the Vermont law, it effectively confines same sex couples to Massachusetts.

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