Is getting married in Massachusetts really legal?
Yetta gives you legal advice
My partner and I have been together for three years, and we think it’s time to tie the knot. We live in New York, but we would like to get married in Massachusetts. However, I’ve heard that only people who live in Massachusetts can marry in the state. Is that true? Or will we be able to marry there?
-engaged but confused
I have good news for you and your partner. As New York State residents, not only can you get married in Massachusetts but, under a number of relatively recent decisions back in your home state, your marriage should be recognized in New York as well.
When the Goodridge v. Department of Public Health decision came down in 2004, making it unlawful in Massachusetts to deny LGBT couples the right to marry, many of us were dancing in the streets. It was the first of its kind in the United States, and it made Massachusetts only the 6th jurisdiction around the world to allow same-sex marriage at that time.
Unfortunately, Mitt Romney was the Governor of Massachusetts during those times. Let’s be really nice and call Mr. Romney “not so supportive of marriage equality, or LGBT rights in general.” He did not dance in the streets. Instead, he passed an executive order that diminished access for LGBT couples to legal marriages by imposing a residency requirement, meaning you had to be a resident of the state to marry there. This order applied only to LGBT couples, and not to their heterosexual counterparts. To justify the order, Romney said he feared a great exodus of LGBT folks from other states and into Massachusetts, people he thought would temporarily boost the state’s economy by spending lots of money on hotels and visiting tourist spots. Apparently Mitt didn’t know that what he described did already happen—hello, Provincetown?
Luckily, when Duval Patrick replaced Romney as Governor in Massachusetts, he overturned this order so there is now no residency requirement for Massachusetts marriages. The only requirements are that you both be 18 years of age or older, and that you and your intended spouse not be related by blood or marriage. You will need to bring identification to prove your age, and you’ll have to cover the filing fee, which varies by county. There will be at least a mandatory three-day waiting period between the time you file and the moment you may have the ceremony, but, once the three days are up, you can spend your money boosting the Massachusetts economy and rewarding the state for recognizing your civil rights.
I hope this is helpful, and congratulations!
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*This column is not a consultation with an attorney and should in no way be construed as such or as a substitute for such consultation. Anyone with legal issues or concerns should seek the advice of her own attorney.