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Same-Sex Marriage

Massachusetts does not have a residency requirement for marriage, but until July 31, 2008 an old law dating back to 1913 prohibited marriage licenses to same-sex couples from most other states unless they intended to reside in Massachusetts. On July 31, 2008 Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a bill that repealed this so-called "1913 law," and effective immediately on that date same-sex couples from anywhere in the country or world can legally marry in Massachusetts without having an intent to reside in Massachusetts.

Couples should be aware that whether the marriage will be respected in their home state or country is a complicated issue. In addition, because of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, the marriages of same-sex couples are not recognized by the federal government and so same-sex couples are not allowed access to the 1,138 federal laws that deal with marriage. Also, should the couple at some point wish to end the marriage, unless the couple lives in a state or country which does respect the marriage, it may not be possible to dissolve the marriage until one member of the couple moves to a place that does respect the marriage and lives there long enough to meet that state or country's residency requirement for divorce. GLAD's website, explains the process and answers any questions about the subject.


Rhode Island currently does not allow for same-sex marriages or unions; however, same-sex Rhode Island couples can currently marry in Massachusetts, provided the couple follows the Commonwealth's rules and regulations for marriage. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts will recognize their marriage even if the couple lives in Rhode Island. For more information on the legal issues of this matter, including whether the state will recognize the marriage, couples should consult an attorney. also offers a wealth of information through this Web site: