Browse Cases

By Topic

By State

By Outcome

Join Our Mailing List

We will send you updates about the changes GLAD is winning in the law and invitations to upcoming GLAD events.

Sign Me Up


For more information on a case,
contact Carisa Cunningham at 617-426-1350, or contact by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Representing Plaintiff(s) · Victory · Final Disposition on March 30, 2006

Cote-Whitacre et al. v. Dept. Public Health

On March 30, 2006, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court determined in the absence of a home state’s “express prohibition” against marriage by same-sex couples – through a constitutional amendment, statute, or controlling appellate decision, Massachusetts must allow same-sex couples from that state to marry.  This decision had a substantial impact on three states:

Rhode Island
On September 29, 2006, Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Thomas Connolly ruled there is no explicit prohibition in Rhode Island law preventing same-sex couples from marrying, and, as such, Rhode Island same-sex couples could come to Massachusetts to wed. In February, 2007, RI Attorney General Patrick Lynch issued a statement that Rhode Island will recognize the marriages of same-sex couples married in Massachusetts, and GLAD is working with partners in Rhode Island to ensure that these marriages are respected.

New York State
Judge Connolly also ruled that because the New Court of Appeals ruled on July 6, 2006, against marriage equality in the state’s own marriage case, couples from New York cannot marry in Massachusetts. GLAD subsequently returned to court on behalf of the New York couple in the case, Tanya Wexler and Amy Zimmerman, who married in Massachusetts in May, 2004.  In a judgment on May 10, 2007, Judge Connolly ruled that Massachusetts marriages licenses issued to New York same-sex couples before July 6, 2006 are completely valid and never should have been put into question by the 1913 law.

New Mexico
Finally, noting that New Mexico law is also silent on the question of marriage between same-sex couples, GLAD worked with the Commonwealth to correct the erroneous denial of marriage licenses to New Mexico same-sex couples.  On July 18, 2007, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Registry of Vital Statistics issued an official corrective notice providing clerks with the authority to grant such licenses.


Marrying in Massachusetts: A Guide for Rhode Island Couples

Legal Issues for New York Same-Sex Couples Who Married in Massachusetts

Legal Issues for Non-Massachusetts Same-Sex Couples Who Married in Massachusetts

Meet the Plaintiff Couples:

Sandi and Bobbi Cote-Whitacre

Paul Trubey and Mark Pearsall

Kristin and Katy Gossman

Ed Butler and Les Schoof

Mary Norton and Wendy Becker

Jim Theberge and Michael Thorne

Amy Zimmerman and Tanya Wexler