Goodridge v. Department of Public Health

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Considered whether denying same-sex couples the right to marry violated the individual liberty and equality safeguards of the Massachusetts Constitution, protecting freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into protected areas of life and freedom to partake in state benefits.

Full Case Titile: 

Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, 798 N.E.2d 941 (Mass. 2003)
  • Fairness in the Courts

Year: 

2003
  • Sex-Based Classification
  • LGBTQ+ Rights
  • Joined Amicus Brief

Brief: 

Summary of the Case

Seven same-sex couples in Massachusttes applied for marriage licenses in 2001. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health rejected their applications because the state did not recognize same-sex marriages. The plaintiffs sued, claiming that "the exclusion of the plaintiff couples and other qualified same-sex couples from access to marriage licenses, and the legal and social status of civil marriage, as well as the protections, benefits and obligations of marriage, violates Massachusetts law." The Superior Court ruled for the Department of Health in 2002. The couples appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court.

Our Role in the Case

Legal Momentum's joined an amicus brief in this case, arguing that denying same-sex couples the right to marry relies on outdated sex stereotypes about "gender appropriate" roles within marriage.

Decision

The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the Superior Court's judgement, writing that the court could not "deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry."