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Equality and Liberty in the Golden Age of State Constitutional Law$
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Jeffrey M. Shaman

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195334340

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195334340.001.0001

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Civil Unions and Marriage

Civil Unions and Marriage

(p.185) 6 Civil Unions and Marriage
Equality and Liberty in the Golden Age of State Constitutional Law

Jeffrey M. Shaman

Oxford University Press

Although there is a split of authority on the issue, some state courts have ruled that it is unconstitutional to deny gay or lesbian couples the civil benefits and rights that are available to heterosexual couples who are married. These decisions extend the legal benefits of marriage, but not the right to marry itself, to same-sex couples. However, in 2003, in a momentous decision, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts ruled that it was a violation of the state constitution for the commonwealth to deny the right to marry to persons of the same sex. Court decisions concerning civil union and marriage are based on the principle of equality and the right of privacy. This chapter thoroughly examines the opinions entered in the Massachusetts case and analyzes the arguments for and against same-sex marriage.

Keywords:   same-sex marriage, gay rights, lesbian rights

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