Press Room

February 04, 2004


HRC Statement on Massachusetts High Court Opinion

Opinion Consistent with Earlier Ruling

WASHINGTON - According to press reports, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court today reaffirmed its decision in Goodridge et al. v. The Department of Public Health, informing lawmakers that only marriage rights - not civil unions - would provide equal protection under the state constitution to same-sex couples, and thus meet the requirements set forth in Goodridge. Human Rights Campaign President Cheryl Jacques, a former Massachusetts state senator, released the following statement:

"It comes as no surprise to most people that the court upheld its earlier ruling for equality and fairness. In handing down Goodridge, the state's highest court did the only thing it could do in the face of such glaring discrimination against hard-working, taxpaying couples and their children in Massachusetts. Today, the court reaffirmed its fair-minded and historic decision.

"As a former legislator, I'm confident that lawmakers will focus on what's important to Massachusetts families and embrace this as a positive step forward. It's time to turn attention to important issues that strengthen the families of Massachusetts, rather than focusing on a divisive and costly battle to write discrimination into the state constitution.

"We applaud Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, MassEquality and the others working so hard in Massachusetts to bring equality to all families."

A December 2003 poll by the University of Massachusetts found that a clear majority, 59 percent of registered voters, agreed with the court's decision in Goodridge, while 37 percent disagreed. A Boston Globe poll taken shortly after the Nov. 18, 2003, decision showed 53 percent of voters oppose an amendment banning same-sex marriage rights and only 36 percent support it. And a poll in October by Decision Research found a solid majority of voters - by a margin of 58 percent to 38 percent - believe that civil rights, such as the right to marry, should not depend upon the approval of voters.