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|LGBT rights in Massachusetts|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Legal since 1974 (Commonwealth v. Balthazar)|
|Same-sex marriage since 2004|
|Discrimination protections||Yes (both sexual orientation and gender identity or expression)|
The establishment of LGBT rights in the U.S. state of Massachusetts is a recent phenomenon, with most advances in LGBT rights taking place since 1992. In 2004, it became the first U.S. state to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health.
 Early steps
In September 1992, Governor William Weld issued an executive order allowing state employees to register as domestic partners "for purposes of bereavement leave and visitation rights in state prisons and hospitals." That same year he appointed a Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, which in turn produced a report Making Schools Safe for Gay and Lesbian Youth (1993). Its recommendations required schools to create policies to protect gay and lesbian students, create school-based support groups for them, train teachers and staff on gay issues, and incorporate information on gay issues into curriculum and libraries. Gov. Mitt Romney disbanded the commission as well as another board, the Governor's Task Force on Hate Crimes, in 2003, citing budgetary concerns.
 State-sanctioned discrimination
Massachusetts does not restrict private sexual behavior between consenting adults. It has two statutes that implicate homosexual activity: § 34 prohibits the "abominable and detestable crime against nature" and § 35 prohibits "any unnatural and lascivious act with another person." In 1974 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found the second of these statutes "inapplicable to private, consensual conduct of adults" in Commonwealth v. Balthazar. In 2001, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) sued the Massachusetts Attorney General and two District Attorneys challenging both statutes. The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed the case on February 21, 2002, because the plaintiffs did not present an instance of prosecution and therefore failed to meet the Court's "actual controversy requirement." The Court noted that the defendants' stipulation "that their offices will not prosecute anyone under the challenged laws absent probable cause to believe that the prohibited conduct occurred either in public or without consent" satisfied the Court's holding in Commonwealth v. Balthazar with respect to § 35. It also extended its holding that "consensual conduct in private between adults is not prohibited" to apply to § 34.
 Recognition of same-sex relationships
Massachusetts authorized same-sex marriages within the state following the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruling on November 18, 2003 in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health that it was unconstitutional under the state constitution for state agencies to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples. The Court gave the state legislature 180 days to enact laws pursuant to the judgment. In the absence of legislative action, Governor Mitt Romney ordered town clerks to begin issuing marriage certificates to same-sex couples beginning May 17, 2004. Attempts to enact an amendment to the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage have been unsuccessful.
On July 26, 2012, the SJC ruled in Elia-Warnken v. Elia that the state recognizes a civil union established in a different jurisdiction as the equivalent of marriage. It termed a Massachusetts marriage entered into by a man who was already a party to a Vermont civil union with a third party "polygamy" and therefore void. On September 28, 2012, the SJC ruled in that "Because the parties to California [registered domestic partnerships] have rights and responsibilities identical to those of marriage", it is proper to treat such relationships "as equivalent to marriage" in Massachusetts.
 Discrimination protection
On February 17, 2011, Gov. Deval Patrick issued an executive order banning discrimination on the part of the state or its contractors against transgender employees of the state government. He reiterated his support for legislation to extend similar protection to all transgender persons in the state. Massachusetts enacted such legislation prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and expression in credit, public and private employment, union practices and housing—but not public accommodations—on November 23, effective on July 1, 2012.
In June 2012, on instructions from Worcester Robert McManus, diocesan officials declined to sell a property owned by the diocese to a gay couple and in July lied about what happened when questioned about the sale. In September the couple filed suit against the bishop and other parties to the negotiations.
 Adoption and parenting
In May 1985, in response to a public controversy about a same-sex couple that was acting as foster parents, Massachusetts issued regulations designed to prevent such couples from serving as foster parents. The state rescinded those regulations in 1990 as part of an out-of-court settlement of a suit brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), following a five-year campaign by an ad hoc group formed around the issue, Foster Equality. The state has allowed second-parent adoption by a parent of the same sex as the existing parent since a court decision, In re Adoption of Tammy, in 1993.
In 2004, following the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, Gov. Mitt Romney prevented the state's Registry of Vital Records from revising its birth certificate forms to allow for options other than one mother and one father, instead requiring hand-written changes to the documents only after receiving approval from the governor's legal counsel. The forms were changed when Gov. Deval Patrick took office in 2007.
In March 2006, Catholic Charities of Boston announced it would no longer provide adoption services because it could not comply with Massachusetts law prohibiting discrimination against homosexuals.
In February 2011, Massachusetts Health Commissioner John Auerbach announced plans by the end of March to standardize birth certificates, formerly designed by each city or town, by providing hospitals with electronic forms with fields labeled "mother/parent" and "father/parent". He called the system "more sensitive to the circumstances of the family and to the children."
 Hate crime
Massachusetts added sexual orientation to the categories protected by its 1983 hate crimes legislation in June 1996. The state defines a hate crime as "any criminal act coupled with overt actions motivated by bigotry and bias, including, but not limited to, a threatened, attempted or completed overt act motivated at least in part by racial, religious, ethnic, handicap, gender or sexual orientation prejudice, or which otherwise deprives another person of his constitutional rights by threats, intimidation or coercion, or which seek to interfere with or disrupt a person’s exercise of constitutional rights through harassment or intimidation.”
Massachusetts adopted the Hate Crimes Reporting Act in 1990. The legislation created a Crime Reporting Unit to collect hate crime incident reports from law enforcement and required the unit to summarize and report on the information. Regulations establish criteria for determining whether a crime is a hate crime, provide a means for advocacy organizations to report hate incidents, specify the content of crime and incident reports, and specify the content of the annual report. The crime report unit of the State Police must also collect, summarize and report hate crime data to the state attorney general and to several legislative committees. The reports are available on public record.
In 1991, the governor created the Task Force on Hate Crimes. The task force's principal tasks are (1) developing regulations to implement the Hate Crimes Reporting Act, (2) coordinating training efforts, (3) increasing submission of hate crime data, and (4) working with community organizations and victims' groups. Initiatives for 2000 include pilot programs in high schools, youth diversion programs, a new correctional diversity awareness program, outreach coordination, a victimization survey in schools, public awareness, creating civil rights investigative teams, encouragement of reporting by law enforcement, and continued training.
Anti-bullying legislation was enacted in May 2010. It "requires schools to adopt clear procedures for reporting and investigating cases of bullying, as well as methods for preventing retaliation against those who report problems."
The words "gender identity and expression" were added to the state's hate crime statute effective July 1, 2012.
 Gender reassignment
Massachusetts allows a person who has completed sex-reassignment surgery to amend his or her birth certificate.
 See also
- Yuval Merin, Equality for Same-Sex Couples: The Legal Recognition of Gay Partnerships in Europe and the United States (University of Chicago Press, 2002), 204
- Jean M. Baker, How Homophobia Hurts Children: Nurturing Diversity at Home, at School, and in the Community (Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press, 2002), 13
- Boston Globe: Michael Levenson, "Debate on Romney's memory of incident," May 12, 2012, accessed May 30, 2012
- Massachusetts Cases: Commonwealth v. Richard L. Balthazar, 366 Mass. 298, accessed March 11, 2011
- Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts: GLAD v. Attorney General, February 21, 2002, accessed March 9, 2011; Merin, 332
- Boston Globe: Frank Phillips, "Legislators vote to defeat same-sex marriage ban," June 14, 2007, accessed March 9, 2011
- Boston Globe: Michael Levenson," Governor signs law allowing out-of-state gays to wed," July 31, 2008, accessed March 9, 2011
- Finucane, Martin (July 26, 2012). "Massachusetts high court says it recognizes Vermont civil unions as marriages". Boston Globe. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
- "SJC: Massachusetts Recognizes California Registered Domestic Partnerships". GLAD. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
- New York Times: "A Gay Rights Law Is Voted in Massachusetts," November 1, 1989, accessed July 29, 2011
- Human Rights Campaign: Massachusetts Non-Discrimination Law, accessed March 10, 2011
- Levenson, Michael (February 18, 2011). "Transgender state workers get aid from governor". Boston Globe. Retrieved January 18, 2013.; O'Connell, Sue (February 17, 2011). "Patrick signs executive order protecting transgender state employees". Bay Windows. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
- Barusch, M.; Reuben, Catherine E. (May 8, 2012). "Transgender Equal Rights In Massachusetts: Likely Broader Than You Think". Boston Bar Journal. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
- Williamson, Dianne (July 26, 2012). "'Plans' don't include sale to gay couple". Worcester Telegram. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
- Anderson, Karen. "Gay Couple Says Church Is Blocking Sale Of Historic Home". CBS Boston. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
- Wangsness, Lisa (September 10, 2012). "Gay couple says church denied Northbridge mansion sale to stop same-sex weddings". Boston Globe. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
- Nancy D. Polikoff, "Lesbian and Gay Couples Raising Children: The Law in the United States," in Robert Wintemute, Mads Tønnesson Andenæs, eds., Legal recognition of Same-Sex Partnerships: A Study of National, European and International Law (Portland, OR: Hart Publishing, 2001), 159-60
- Patricia A. Gozemba, Karen Kahn, Marilyn Humphries, eds., Courting Equality: A Documentary History of America's First Legal Same-Sex Marriages (Boston: Beacon Press, 2007), 48
- Yuval Merin, Equality for Same-Sex Couples, 182
- Waas, Murray (October 25, 2012). "Romney rejected new birth certificates for gay parents". Boston Globe. Retrieved October 25, 2012.
- Boston Globe: "Catholic Charities Transfers Caseload, Staff," April 29, 2006, accessed March 9, 2011. See also: Robin Fretwell Wilson, "Matters of Conscience: Lessons for Same-Sex Marriage from the Healthcare Context," in Douglas Laycock, Robin Fretwell Wilson, eds., Same-sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008), 102, et passim
- Boston Globe: Stephen Smith, "Mass. moves to standardize birth certificates," February 17, 2011, accessed March 9, 2011
- Boston Globe: Doris Sue Wong, "Senate Expands Hate-crime Law," June 21, 1996 accessed March 9, 2011
- "Massachusetts General Laws". Definition: Hate Crime.
- General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleII/Chapter22C/Section34 Mass. Ann. Laws ch. 22C, §§ 34], accessed April 3, 2011
- Reinhart, Christopher. "OLR Research Report". Research Report. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
- Boston Globe: Sarah Schweitzer, "Activists urge lawmakers to expand bullying law," February 10, 2011, accessed March 9, 2011
- Human Rights Campaign: Massachusetts Birth Certificate Law, MASS. GEN. LAWS ANN. ch. 46, § 13(e), accessed March 10, 2011
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 It Gets Better participation
The Massachusetts US Congressional Delegation made a video contribution to It Gets Better on July 22, 2011.
|This YouTube video is a part of the It Gets Better project, who has provided permission for its use. The video is displayed using the YouTube widget. Please visit It Gets Better's website to view other videos and support the project's work.|
|Some content in this article from Wikipedia's WikiProject LGBT studies|
|The Wikipedia article is LGBT rights in Massachusetts|
|Special thank you to participants of Wikipedia's WikiProject LGBT studies!|