Skip Header to Content
GLAD Logo GLAD Logo Skip Primary Navigation to Content
  • By Issue
  • By Location
  • By Type

Goodridge et al. v. Dept. Public Health



In a historic opinion on November 18, 2003, GLAD won a ruling from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that gay and lesbian couples can no longer be excluded from civil marriage rights in Massachusetts.  GLAD filed the case in April 2001.  The 4-3 opinion was the first of its kind in this country by a final appellate court.

On February 4, 2004 the Supreme Judicial Court issued its Opinions of the Justices to the Senate confirming that a proposed civil union bill does not meet the mandates of liberty and equality of the state constitution. The Court reconfirmed that its ruling in Goodridge v. Dep’t. of Public Health required the end of the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. This opinion was issued in response to the Massachusetts Senate’s request for an advisory opinion as to whether a “civil unions” bill would satisfy the state constitution. The Court recognized that civil unions create a separate and unequal status.

At its core, marriage is about the love and commitment of two people, people who have made the choice to spend their lives together.

Marriage is also a bundle of legal rights meant to protect spouses and families; an adult rite of passage; a way for two people to honor their relationship; an opportunity for family and friends to bond together; and a respected cultural institution. It is also a fundamental legal right and a personal choice—not something that should be decided by the state.