Massachusetts on course to allow out of state gays to marry

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The Massachusetts House has voted to repeal a 1913 law that prevents gay and lesbian couples from most other states from marrying in Massachusetts.

The vote comes on the heels of a unanimous state Senate vote approving the repeal earlier this month.

The measure will now go to Governor Deval Patrick, who is expected to sign it into law.

Once that happens, Massachusetts will become the second state in the US to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry regardless of their place of residence.

“I’m glad that we finally did it,” said Representative Byron Rushing, a Boston Democrat, who, according to, described the repeal on the House floor as a “question of fairness and… a question of equality.”

After the vote, Rushing said he hoped lawmakers or the Governor would add an emergency preamble to the bill to speed its effect and allow for September weddings.

Originally the 1913 Massachusetts law barring unions by out of state residents grew out of the national outrage over the interracial marriage of heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson.

Its intent at the time was to prevent interracial couples from the thirty states that banned interracial marriage from crossing borders to marry in Massachusetts.

The law eventually became nascent until gay marriage was legalised in Massachusetts and then-Governor Mitt Romney resurrected the law as a means of preventing the state from becoming what he called “the Las Vegas of gay marriage.”

The repeal of the 1913 law is yet another victory for marriage equality advocates who have seen significant progress in a recent months.

Though New York has yet legalise same-sex marriage, last month Governor David Patterson issued an important directive requiring that state agencies recognise gay marriages performed in another jurisdiction.

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