U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Mass. Same-sex Marriage Case

The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Monday to hear a challenge to Massachusetts’ law legalizing same-sex marriage—the only kind in the nation.

The justices rejected the case brought by Liberty Counsel on behalf of Robert Largess, the vice president of the Catholic Action League, and 11 state legislators, without comment.

Mathew Staver, founder and president of Liberty Counsel, said in a Supreme Court filing that the Constitution should "protect the citizens of Massachusetts from their own state supreme court's usurpation of power."

In Nov. 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ordered the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples but stayed its decision for 180 days pending response from the Massachusetts Legislature. The state’s makers passed a constitutional amendment, defining marriage as between one man and one woman only, which must be approved again in next year’s legislative term before heading to voters in 2006.

Liberty Counsel challenged Massachusetts’ decision in the Goodridge v. Department of Public Health case in the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing the court's decision infringed on the US Constitution's guarantee of a republican form of government. The Appellate court declined in June to issue an order stopping Massachusetts from issuing same-sex marriage licenses beginning May 17.

Merita Hopkins, a city attorney in Boston, had told justices in court papers that the plaintiffs did not show that they suffered injury. "Deeply felt interest in the outcome of a case does not constitute an actual injury," she said.

Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly told justices that voters can overrule the Supreme Court by adopting a constitutional amendment.

More than 3,000 same-sex couples have received marriage licenses in Massachusetts in the past year, some going further and challenged marriage laws in their home states.

Conservatives have credited the homosexual marriage push for the Election Day passage of constitutional amendments banning gay marriage 11 states. President Bush has also agreed to continue fighting for a federal marriage amendment making marriage exclusive between a man and a woman while leaving civil unions a state issue.

The case is Largess v. Supreme Judicial Court of the State of Massachusetts, case no. 04-420.