Gay Marriages in Massachusetts: One Year Later, May 2005
In May 2004 Massachusetts began to legally marry gay and lesbian couples. Unlike other cities that briefly offered gay marriages, Massachusetts marriages continue to be performed and continue to remain legal. Currently, Massachusetts is the only state in the United States where gays and lesbians can legally marry. Heres an update on the gay marriages performed in Massachusetts and the public opinion about those gay marriages.
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled on November 18th, 2003 that it was unconstitutional to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples in marriage.
On May 17th, 2004 gay and lesbian couples began legally marrying in Massachusetts. More than 1,600 gay and lesbian couples married in that first month.
From May 17th 2004- May 2005 more than 6,000 gay couples were married in Massachusetts.
From May 2004 to December 2004 2,123 gay male couples were married and 3,871 lesbian couples were married. 27,045 male/female couples married in the same time period.
Lesbian couples outnumbered gay men heading to the altar 65% to 35%.
Two towns in Massachusetts saw more same-sex marriages than heterosexual marriages since the May 2004 ruling.
97% of couples married in Provincetown were gay or lesbian or 841 gay and lesbian couples, compared to only 24 male/female couples.
275 lesbian couples and 41 gay couples were married in Northampton, compared to 189 heterosexual couples.
Out of state couples are not allowed to legally marry in Massachusetts, although that is being challenged in the courts.
A statewide poll by Mass Equality in May 2005 found that 62% of those Massachusetts residents polled support marriage equality for gays and lesbians.
Fully 84% of voters believe marriage equality has either had a positive impact or no impact on the quality of life in Massachusetts.
82% of those surveyed said allowing gays and lesbians to marry has either had a positive impact or no impact at all on traditional marriages, contradicting one of the core arguments of opponents.
Political Impact: All state legislators who support gay marriage were voted back into office in November 2004. Two gay marriage opponents lost their seats.
Whats next? Some lawmakers in Massachusetts want to change the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. In order for that to happen, the state must convene a constitutional convention and approve the amendment. It would then have to go to the voters for approval. The earliest that could happen is Fall 2006.
(Statistics Source: Massachusetts Dept of Public Health: Registry of Vital Records and Statistics. Poll Source: Mass Equality Education Fund.)