BBA Past President J.D. Smeallie issued a statement on the Supreme Court ruling re: Marriage Equality. Read it here.

The Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection effectively protect all people from invidious discrimination, whether on account of race, gender, national origin, religion, alienage, or sexual orientation.

The BBA’s support of marriage equality came to the attention of the legal world when in 2002 we became one of the first bar associations in America to file an independent amicus brief in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health stating that denying civil marriage licenses to same sex couples is a violation of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.

In recent years, the BBA has demonstrated support for advancing the cause of marriage equality in a variety of ways:


We drafted an amicus brief in Cote-Whiteacre v. Dept. of Pub Health supporting the position of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders(GLAD). We argued that the 1913 statute, which prevents non-resident couples from marrying in Massachusetts if that marriage would be void in their home state, was unconstitutional.


We signed on to an amicus brief in Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, and Nancy Gill et al v. Office of Personnel Management et al., arguing that classifications based on sexual orientation must be subjected to heightened scrutiny. The brief concerns two cases that involve a constitutional challenge to Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) being heard before the First Circuit.


We presented the Beacon Award for Diversity + Inclusion to the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders and the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office for their efforts to challenge the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a statute that discriminates against legally married same-sex couples.


We joined a coalition of bar associations, civil and human rights groups, and public interest and legal services organizations and signed onto amicus briefs in two cases before the Supreme Court of the United States: United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry. In both briefs, the amici urge the Court to presume the "unequal treatment is based on deep-seated prejudice or baseless stereotypes and requires a more searching review of the actual grounds for the discrimination to prevent governments from justifying it with post hoc rationales."

Massachusetts: the first state to legalize same-sex marriage

Following the Supreme Judicial Court’s 2003 ruling in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. As of June 2013, twelve states—Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, as well as the District of Columbia and three Native American tribes—have legalized same-sex marriage.

Other resources:

Issue Spot: the BBA’s Public Policy Blog

BBA Continues Advocacy for Marriage Equality
February 27, 2013

Nationwide Victories for Same-Sex Marriage
November 15, 2012

SCOTUS 2012 Fall Starting Line-Up
October 4, 2012

BBA Signs on to Amicus Brief Challenging DOMA
November 10, 2011

Still Proud to Be First!
August 11, 2011

D-Day for DOMA
February 24, 2011

BBA Press

2013 Boston Bar Joins in Support of Striking Down DOMA

2012 SCOTUS To Hear Same-Sex Marriage Cases

2011 BBA Signs onto Amicus Brief Challenging DOMA