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Gay Marriage in Massachusetts

A Guide to the Law, Marriage Licenses & Planning a Gay Wedding in Massachusetts


Updated June 09, 2004
Massachusetts became the first state in America to legally permit gay marriage on May 17, 2004. The law allowing same-sex marriage was the outcome of a November 2003 ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that declared the prohibition of gay marriage to be a violation of the state's constitution.

Though controversy over gay marriage remains at both the state and national levels, at the moment, gay couples have an unprecedented opportunity to marry in Massachusetts and receive all of the legal rights, protections and benefits associated with marriage. Northampton, Cambridge and Cape Cod's Provincetown, all traditionally gay-friendly towns, are expected to be particularly impacted by the new law.

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has instructed town clerks to only issue marriage licenses to those gay couples who currently live in Massachusetts or who pronounce their intention to relocate to the state. Romney's edict relies on a 1913 law that bars couples from marrying in Massachusetts if their union would not be recognized as legal in their state of residence. It is expected that this stance will be challenged in court, and news reports indicate that some clerks are issuing licenses to out-of-state couples. On May 10, town selectmen in Provincetown, for example, voted unanimously to grant marriage licenses to visiting couples.

Here is a basic guide to gay marriage in Massachusetts, including laws, marriage license requirements and inns and other businesses that cater to gay weddings.

Massachusetts Marriage Toolkit
From GLAD, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, here is a basic guide to how to get married in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Marriage License Information
From About.com's Marriage Guides, Bob and Sheri Stritof, here is a basic overview of requirements and fees for obtaining a marriage license in Massachusetts.

Marriage in Massachusetts: Frequently Asked Questions
From GLAD, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, here is a helpful resource for gay and lesbian couples contemplating marriage in the Bay State.

Questions & Answers for Same-Sex Couples Considering Getting Married in Massachusetts
This helpful document from the American Civil Liberties Union answers many questions about the laws and logistics involved with marrying in Massachusetts.

Gay-Friendly Wedding Vendors
From rainbowweddingnetwork.com, locate Massachusetts wedding vendors known to welcome gay couples.

Massachusetts Gay Weddings Listings
From Lambda Gay Weddings, here is a directory of Massachusetts resources for gay couples planning a wedding.

Provincetown Wedding Planner
From the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce, here are listings of wedding-related businesses in town.

Provincetown Weddings
From iamprovincetown.com, here is a guide to everything you need to plan a Provincetown wedding including ordained ministers, photographers, wedding venues and wedding planners.

Massachusetts Gay Marriage Experiences
This is a discussion forum for those planning a gay wedding in Massachusetts. Ask questions, or share your wedding story.

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