Massachusetts moves to allow out of state gays to get married

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

An obscure law originally passed to deny some interracial couples access to marriage will be repealed, the Massachusetts state Senate has decided.

1913 legislation prohibits officials from issuing marriage licences to out-of-state couples whose marriages would be illegal in their home states.

The state House of Representatives will consider the issue next week.

The 1913 law has affected same-sex couples since a Massachusetts court ruling in 2003 legalised same-sex marriage in the state.

Then-Governor Mitt Romney revived the 1913 law in order to weaken the impact of the state’s Supreme Court ruling that gay and lesbian couples should have equal rights to civil marriage.

The repeal of the law is supported by state Senate President Therese Murray, Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi, and Governor Deval Patrick.

Last month the Governor spoke of his pride in his daughter for publicly coming out as a lesbian. He then took part in Boston’s Pride parade with her.

Mr Deval, a Democrat, is the first black Governor of Massachusetts.

Conservatives in the state are unhappy that gay marriage was imposed by the courts and not the legislature.

In 2007, the state legislature defeated a measure to amend the state’s constitution to ban such unions.

Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute in Woburn, told The Republican newspaper that he opposes moves to overturn the 1913 law.

“It’s Massachusetts attempting to force its social experiment on other states in total defiance of the right of other states to define marriage,” he said.

Gay rights groups were pleased that Massachusetts may offer gay marriage to people from other states.

“We fully expect the House to pass this bill and send it to Governor Patrick’s desk to be signed into law this month,” said Kara Suffredini, Director of Public Policy at the Family Equality Council.

“Massachusetts has given much to this country, and now it also has the opportunity to give the gift of marriage equality for all loving families.

“The Family Equality Council encourages our supporters and fair-minded people to thank their state Senators for their vote today and to ask their state Representatives to support this bill so that all families may be recognised, respected, protected and celebrated.”

Mr Suffredini also pointed to the financial benefits of repealing the 1913 law.

A report from the Massachusetts Office of Housing and Economic Development forecasts a $111 (£55.4m) million windfall to the state should same-sex couples from other states be allowed to marry in the state.

The report also predicts the creation of 330 jobs and an additional $5 million in tax revenue over three years.