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Extracts from the SJC Advisory Opinion to the Senate

February 4, 2004

“We recognize the efforts of the Senate to draft a bill in conformity with the Goodridge opinion. Yet the bill, as we read it, does nothing to ‘preserve’ the civil marriage law, only its constitutional infirmity. This is not a matter of social policy but of constitutional interpretation.” (pg 5)

“The very nature and purpose of civil marriage, the court concluded, renders unconstitutional any attempt to ban same-sex couples, as same sex-couples, from entering into civil marriage.” (pg 8)

“The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal.” (pg 9)

“The court stated then, and we reaffirm, that the State may not interfere with these convictions or with the decision of any religion to refuse to perform religious marriages of same-sex couples.” (pg 10)

“The dissimilitude between the terms ‘civil marriage’ and ‘civil union’ is not innocuous; it is a considered choice of language that reflects a demonstrable assigning of same-sex, largely homosexual, couples to second-class status.” (pg 10)

“For no rational reason the marriage laws of the Commonwealth discriminate against a defined class; no amount of tinkering with the language will eradicate that stain. The bill would have the effect of maintaining and fostering a stigma of exclusion that the Constitution prohibits.” (pg 11)

“Maintaining a second-class citizen status for same-sex couples by excluding them from the institution of civil marriage is the constitutional infirmity at issue.” (pg 14)