Cote-Whitacre et al. v. Dept. Public Health
On March 30, 2006, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court determined in the absence of a home state’s “express prohibition” against marriage by same-sex couples – through a constitutional amendment, statute, or controlling appellate decision, Massachusetts must allow same-sex couples from that state to marry. This decision had a substantial impact on three states:
On September 29, 2006, Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Thomas Connolly ruled there is no explicit prohibition in Rhode Island law preventing same-sex couples from marrying, and, as such, Rhode Island same-sex couples could come to Massachusetts to wed. In February, 2007, RI Attorney General Patrick Lynch issued a statement that Rhode Island will recognize the marriages of same-sex couples married in Massachusetts, and GLAD is working with partners in Rhode Island to ensure that these marriages are respected.
New York State
Judge Connolly also ruled that because the New Court of Appeals ruled on July 6, 2006, against marriage equality in the state’s own marriage case, couples from New York cannot marry in Massachusetts. GLAD subsequently returned to court on behalf of the New York couple in the case, Tanya Wexler and Amy Zimmerman, who married in Massachusetts in May, 2004. In a judgment on May 10, 2007, Judge Connolly ruled that Massachusetts marriages licenses issued to New York same-sex couples before July 6, 2006 are completely valid and never should have been put into question by the 1913 law.
Finally, noting that New Mexico law is also silent on the question of marriage between same-sex couples, GLAD worked with the Commonwealth to correct the erroneous denial of marriage licenses to New Mexico same-sex couples. On July 18, 2007, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Registry of Vital Statistics issued an official corrective notice providing clerks with the authority to grant such licenses.