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Letter to Newspapers in Support of Equal Marriage Rights--February 2004

To our readers:
The struggle for equal rights is far from over, despite the fact that an amendment barring same-sex marriage made it through this year's Constitutional Convention. The amendment must be approved at another convention in 2005 and by referendum in 2006 before becoming law. We urge everyone to contact legislators, friends, colleagues, and media in support of the Supreme Judicial Court's decision. Feel free to quote from this letter to help state your case.
In solidarity,
Rob & Michael

To the Editor:

We are writing to express our unequivocal support of the Supreme Judicial Court's decision mandating equal treatment for gay and lesbian couples in civil marriage. The Men's Resource Center of Western Massachusetts serves men and women of all backgrounds and sexual orientations in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties, and we count more than 1,500 Massachusetts residents among our supporters. We also publish a magazine, Voice Male, which is distributed throughout the Pioneer Valley and mailed to subscribers across the Commonwealth, throughout New England and across the country.

Despite the drumbeat from religious groups and others opposed to the Court's decision, the issue at hand is not a religious but a legal one. Marriage may be sanctified by a religious institution, but it is made legal by the state, and it is the state that confers rights associated with the legal status of being married. An important example of this principle is one we all take for granted: a so-called mixed marriage--between people of different faiths--may or may not be recognized by either of those faiths but is fully sanctioned by the state. The Court was clear that it was not directing any religious institution to perform same-sex marriages or to recognize their validity according to religious tenets. It was deciding a matter of what the state must do to ensure equal rights for all citizens. And in responding to the Senate's request for clarification on the question of civil unions as an alternative, the Court rejected the "separate but equal" premise of such a measure.

We urge the Legislature to reject any constitutional amendment restricting the definition of marriage to that between a man and a woman. The purpose of the Constitution is to defend rights, not restrict them. They must not allow the religious right to impose their will on the people of Massachusetts. These groups threaten to break down the essential wall between church and state. We call on our lawmakers to act responsibly with respect to the Goodridge decision and reject all amendments designed to override that decision.


Michael Dover            Rob Okun
The Men's Resource Center of Western Massachusetts

236 North Pleasant St.
Amherst, MA 01002
Fax 413.253.4801

Satellite Office:
29 Howard Street
Springfield, MA 01109