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Massachusetts House votes to repeal 1913 law limiting same-sex marriages

[JURIST] The Massachusetts House of Representatives [official website] Tuesday voted 119-36 for a bill [HB 1710 petition, PDF] that would repeal a 1913 law barring people from marrying in Massachusetts if their own state would not recognize such a union. The state's Senate passed the bill [JURIST report] earlier this month and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick [official website] has said he will sign it into law when it reaches his desk. The original statute [text] gained attention because it has the effect of preventing most out-of-state same-sex couples from marrying in Massachusetts because most states do not allow the unions. In 2006, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts upheld the 1913 law [JURIST report] in Cote-Whitacre v. Department of Public Health [opinion, PDF] against a legal challenge, but the new law will take precedence if enacted. AP has more.

Massachusetts and California [JURIST news reports] are the only two US states to formally recognize same-sex marriages, and if Tuesday's bill is signed into law, neither state will impose residency restrictions on couples. Many states have banned same-sex unions through statutes or amendments, but several states besides Massachusetts and California do permit same-sex civil unions [JURIST news archive]. In May, New York Governor David Paterson ordered [memo, PDF; JURIST report] that state agencies recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages as legal marriages in New York.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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