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Massachusetts, Florida Courts Hear Gay Rights Cases

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments on March 4 in a case involving seven gay and lesbian couples who are challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, reported the Boston Globe. The case will determine whether the state’s ban on civil same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, but if the couples prevail, churches still would decide whether or not they would perform same-sex marriages. Some Massachusetts state legislators promised that they would support an amendment to the state constitution if the Supreme Judicial Court makes gay marriage legal, the Globe reports. Last year, a similar amendment was blocked by a procedural vote to adjourn by a majority of legislators, but that amendment was more broadly written. Mary Bonauto, the lawyer arguing the case for the couples, said that 2000 Census numbers show that more than 17,000 families in Massachusetts alone are living in same-sex households, according to the Globe.

In Florida, the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments last week in a case challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s ban on gay adoption. The Christian Science Monitor reported that the case was brought on behalf of four men who want to adopt children currently in their care but are prohibited from doing so because of the Florida law banning adoptions by gay individuals. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), representing the plaintiffs in the case, pointed out that the state relies on gay foster parents to provide stable homes to children in their system but these same people are unable to adopt the children with whom they are entrusted. Matt Coles, the ACLU attorney who argued the case in court, lamented, “The state keeps these kids in limbo, burdening a child welfare system already in crisis, just so it can make a political statement against lesbians and gay men.”

Sources:

Boston Globe 3/5/03, 3/6/03; Christian Science Monitor 3/6/03; ACLU 3/4/03