Mass. Senate votes to let gays from out of state marry

The body repeals a 1913 law, originally directed at interracial marriages, that had been used to prevent nonresident same-sex couples from marrying in Massachusetts.

Published July 16, 2008 5:27PM (EDT)

In a voice vote, and with no objections, the Massachusetts Senate voted Wednesday to allow same-sex couples from outside the state to come to Massachusetts to marry.

At issue in the vote was a 1913 state law that had originally been targeted at interracial marriage; it forbids Massachusetts authorities from marrying a couple if their marriage would be illegal in their home state. It had been obscure and unused for many years, but former Gov. Mitt Romney resurrected it after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in 2003 that the state could not bar same-sex couples from getting married.

According to the New York Times, the repeal is expected to pass the state House later this week, and Gov. Deval Patrick has said he will sign it.

The state is expecting to get some economic benefit out of this move. A study conducted for the state's Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development by the Williams Institute estimated that 32,000 same-sex couples from out of state would travel to Massachusetts to get married over the next three years, and that this would bring the state's economy $111 million and contribute $5 million to the state government's coffers. The largest amount of this economic boost is expected to come from New York. Gov. David Paterson has directed state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages conducted elsewhere, and the study's authors assumed that gay New Yorkers who want to wed will now travel to Massachusetts instead of California.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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