The Corner

Last Mass.-Related Post for A while

Boston Globe:

The Supreme Judicial Court delivered a major victory yesterday to opponents of same-sex marriage, validating a proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to outlaw gay weddings in a 2008 ballot measure.

In a unanimous decision, the court rejected a claim by gay-rights advocates that Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly erred last year in deciding that the proposed amendment was constitutional. The court ruled that voters had a right to decide whether such a ban belongs in the state constitution.

Yesterday’s decision sets the stage for a highly anticipated joint session of the Legislature tomorrow, when lawmakers have the power to advance or kill the ballot initiative altogether. The stakes are high because the initiative is, for the moment, the only serious challenge to same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, the lone state to allow it.

The court’s decision turned on a provision in the state constitution prohibiting any amendment that seeks the “reversal of a judicial decision.” Gay-marriage advocates contend that because same-sex marriage was made legal in 2003 by an SJC ruling, the proposed ballot question would run afoul of that prohibition.

But the SJC justices ruled that the word “reversal” has been interpreted by the SJC in other cases to mean the overturning of a specific case. The amendment, they wrote, seeks not to reverse the decision per se but merely to enact a new law prohibiting gay marriage.

Justice Robert J. Cordy, writing for the court, said “it is apparent that the plain language of [the constitution] does not bar the people from using the initiative process to amend the constitution.”

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