Rainbow Law has a document package designed to protect same-sex partners in Massachusetts. We offer 9 unique Affordable Document Packages, Individual Legal Documents and FREE Advance Directives to help protect your rights and the rights of your family. To order a legal document package that complies with Massachusetts law, hover your mouse over the “Buy A Package” link in the top menu and click on the package that best suits your needs in the drop-down list. If you’re not sure what package is right for you, click this link and we’ll help you figure out what you need.
Massachusetts recognizes the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry. And because the US Supreme Court overturned parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal government also recognizes LGBT marriages. This means same-sex married couples living in Massachusetts are eligible for all rights and benefits afforded to heterosexual married couples.
Here is a run-down on Massachusetts law affecting the LGBTQ community:
1 Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships: Massachusetts authorized same-sex marriages within the state following the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruling on November 18, 2003 in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health that it was unconstitutional under the state constitution for state agencies to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples. The Court gave the state legislature 180 days to enact laws pursuant to the judgment. In the absence of legislative action, Governor Mitt Romney ordered town clerks to begin issuing marriage certificates to same-sex couples beginning May 17, 2004. Attempts to enact an amendment to the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage, the last in 2007, have been unsuccessful.
A 1913 state law that forbade non-residents from marrying in Massachusetts if their marriage would be void in their home state was repealed on July 31, 2008.
Massachusetts became the sixth jurisdiction in the world (after the Netherlands, Belgium, Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec) to legalize same-sex marriage. It was the first U.S. state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
To date, sixteen states – CA, CT, DE, HI, IA, IL, ME, MD, MA, MN, NH, NJ, NY, RI, VT, and WA – plus Washington, D.C. have the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.
2 Adoption Law: In 2004, following the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, Gov. Mitt Romney prevented the state’s Registry of Vital Records from revising its birth certificate forms to allow for options other than one mother and one father, instead requiring hand-written changes to the documents only after receiving approval from the governor’s legal counsel. The forms were changed when Gov. Deval Patrick took office in 2007.
In February 2011, Massachusetts Health Commissioner John Auerbach announced plans by the end of March to standardize birth certificates, formerly designed by each city or town, by providing hospitals with electronic forms with fields labeled “mother/parent” and “father/parent”. He called the system “more sensitive to the circumstances of the family and to the children.”
3 Anti-Discrimination Law: Massachusetts added sexual orientation to the categories protected by its 1983 hate crimes legislation in June 1996. The state defines a hate crime as “any criminal act coupled with overt actions motivated by bigotry and bias, including, but not limited to, a threatened, attempted or completed overt act motivated at least in part by racial, religious, ethnic, handicap, gender or sexual orientation prejudice, or which otherwise deprives another person of his constitutional rights by threats, intimidation or coercion, or which seek to interfere with or disrupt a person’s exercise of constitutional rights through harassment or intimidation.”
Massachusetts adopted the Hate Crimes Reporting Act in 1990. The legislation created a Crime Reporting Unit to collect hate crime incident reports from law enforcement and required the unit to summarize and report on the information. Regulations establish criteria for determining whether a crime is a hate crime, provide a means for advocacy organizations to report hate incidents, specify the content of crime and incident reports, and specify the content of the annual report. The crime report unit of the State Police must also collect, summarize and report hate crime data to the state attorney general and to several legislative committees. The reports are available on public record.
The words “gender identity and expression” were added to the state’s hate crime statute effective July 1, 2012.
4 Sodomy Law: Massachusetts does not restrict private sexual behavior between consenting adults.
5Gender Identity: Massachusetts allows a person who has completed sex-reassignment surgery to amend his or her birth certificate.
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