May 15, 10:25 AM (ET)
By DENISE LAVOIE
BOSTON (AP) - With the U.S. Supreme Court refusing to step in and block gay marriages in Massachusetts, same-sex couples planning to marry can be confident that, beginning Monday, they could tie the knot.
Couples have been "nervous wrecks about whether they could marry starting Monday," said Arline Isaacson, co-chair of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus. "Now they can all breathe a sigh of relief."
Without comment, the justices declined Friday to block municipal clerks from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, clearing the way for the nation's first state-sanctioned same-sex weddings.
The state's highest court had ruled in November that the state Constitution allowed gay couples to marry, and declared that the process could begin Monday. Gay marriage opponents challenged that ruling in the federal courts and took the case all the way to the Supreme Court.
Hundreds of gay marriage opponents, rallying Friday in historic Faneuil Hall, booed when they learned of the Supreme Court's decision.
Speakers railed against what they called "sexual sin" and warned that gay marriage could have negative effects on families.
"The problem is they're being told that their sin is wonderful and fine," said Sandy Rios, former president of Concerned Women for America, a conservative public policy organization. "May 17, two days from now, will be a day that will change the world."
Laura Mineau, who sat in the audience listening to Rios, said she was saddened by the court's decision.
"I know the best, safest place for a child to be raised is in a stable home with one mother and one father," she said.
On Friday, Missouri lawmakers agreed to let voters decide whether the state constitution should be amended to ban gay marriage. The state, which already has a so-called defense of marriage law, is one of at least six to put a constitutional amendment on the matter on the November ballot.
In the Massachusetts case, a federal judge ruled Thursday against the plaintiffs, a coalition of state lawmakers and conservative activists. Friday, the Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also refused to immediately block gay marriages but agreed to hear the case in June. The Supreme Court issued its decision later Friday.
The Supreme Court's decision did not address the merits of the claim that the state Supreme Judicial Court overstepped its bounds with its landmark decision.
Mathew Staver, president and general counsel of the Florida-based Liberty Counsel, one of the conservative legal groups that worked on the challenge, said the plaintiffs looked forward to eventually arguing the case before the appeals court and the Supreme Court.
Mary Bonauto, the lead attorney for the seven same-sex couples who sued the state for the right to marry, said she was relieved, but not surprised at the decision.
"Reduced to its essence, this has always been a case where people unhappy with the court ruling were trying to dress it up in a federal constitutional claim that Massachusetts was a tyranny," Bonauto said.
Staver told justices in a filing that they were not asking the Supreme Court "to take any position on the highly politicized and personally charged issue of same-sex marriage."
Instead, Staver wrote, they wanted the court to consider whether the Massachusetts judges wrongly redefined marriage. That task should be handled by elected legislators, he said.
I post this with some reluctancy...... I am personally against same sex marriages.
This is a push to promote lawlessness. The San Francisco fiasco is the prime example. People with certain agendas are refusing to follow the laws. This is a devastating precedent for our Nation.