Friday, April 4, 2008

Goodridge v. Department of Public Health
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Decided 2003-11-18
Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, 798 N.E.2d 941 (Mass. 2003), was a landmark state appellate court case dealing with same-sex marriage rights in Massachusetts.

Because of the unusual nature of the 180-day period, and the requirement that the legislature rectify the situation (rather than the court issuing a specific order), some in the legislature advocated responding to Goodridge by creating a system of civil unions, like those in Vermont, but there was disagreement on whether this solution would satisfy the court's mandate. The legislature responded to this lack of clear direction by taking the rare step of asking the Court to clarify its ruling. On February 4, 2004, the four-justice majority of the court responded to the request for clarification. Stating that "the history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal," the court's statement said that nothing short of equal marriage rights would be constitutional. Civil unions would, according to the court, create an "unconstitutional, inferior, and discriminatory status for same-sex couples."

Reaction outside Massachusetts
Two of the original plaintiffs in the case, the couple that the the case is named after and cited by, Julie and Hillary Goodridge, subsequently amicably separated in July 2006, according to their spokesperson.

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