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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Massachusetts Court Rules for Same-Sex Marriages

Aired November 18, 2003 - 10:42   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We have breaking news that has been coming to us for about the last 42 minutes out of Massachusetts, and that is a ruling by the state supreme court in Massachusetts regarding same sex marriages.
Our Dan Lothian has more now from Boston -- Dan.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Daryn, we are currently weeding through some 50 pages or so of this court ruling. As you can imagine, there's a lot of legal sentences in there, complicated legal language.

But the court indeed, as you mentioned, in a 4-3 ruling, just less than an hour ago, did rule that same-sex couples here in this state cannot be denied the right to a marriage license. Now, a few things here, that was the initial ruling, but it's now up to the legislature to take over from here. And what that essentially means, what the court has done, is essentially stayed any marriage licenses being handed out until the state legislature can come up with, or if they do come up with another decision or another solution. That is highly unlikely according to legal experts, because essentially, what they would have to come up to is an amendment to the Constitution that would take, according to legal experts, more than 100 days, perhaps even years to do. It's believed that in 180 days, if the legislature isn't able to come up with anything, that at that point, marriage licenses could be handed out to same-sex couples who are seeking it here in the state of Massachusetts.

In the ruling, the chief justice said that, "The question before us is whether consistent with the Massachusetts constitution, the commonwealth may deny protection, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry. We conclude that it may not. The state constitution affirms the dignity and equity of all individuals, it forbids the creation of second class citizens and in reaching our conclusion," the chief justice went on, "we have given full deference to the arguments made by the commonwealth, but it has failed to identify any constitutionally adequate reason for denying civil marriage to same- sex couples.

Of course, there's the other side, those who have been fighting this all along, with the family institute here in the state. They obviously are upset about this, and they are hopeful that somehow voters will have a voice and that the legislature can do something to prevent this from actually taking place.

We, of course, are following this story, and we'll have more at the top of the hour. Back to you.

KAGAN: A lot to digest. Dan Lothian, thank you for that. We'll get you back here in about 15 minutes.

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