BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey plans to file a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the federal Constitution prohibits discrimination against same-sex marriage.
Healey has encouraged the testimony of same-sex couples in Massachusetts about how being able to get married has improved their lives.
"Massachusetts is unique in that we were the first state to allow same-sex couples to marry back years ago when this issue was bubbling up in other courts around this country," Healey told The Associated Press. "It's heartening to me that a few years later we have 19 states ... who are joining us in this fight."
Healey, the first openly gay state attorney general in the country, will argue in Friday's brief that the refusal of some states to license or recognize marriages between gay and lesbian couples inflicts widespread harm to the couples and their families.
Healey said 11 states refuse to permit same-sex marriages or recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states.
She said 22 states only honor same-sex marriages because they are required to by federal court decisions that found their marriage bans unconstitutional
Given that patchwork of regulations, Healey said only the Supreme Court can settle the issue for the nation by ruling that bans on gay marriage anywhere in the country are unconstitutional.
She said those bans in other states hurt legally married gay couples in Massachusetts, particularly when they travel outside of their home state.
"Families worry that they are not going to be able to visit a loved one in the hospital, or worry that their relationship with their own children won't be honored in the same way as it is here in Massachusetts if they visit or move to another state," Healey said.
Among those responding to Healey's invitation for personal testimony was Scituate resident Richard Taylor, who said he married his husband in Massachusetts in 2005. He said they've been a couple for a total of 23 years.
"We are completely a part of the fabric of this community, and everybody treats us as equal members in our beautiful seaside town," wrote Taylor, who serves on the Scituate Planning Board. "I think a lot of that is the fact that I can introduce my partner as 'my husband' and people immediately 'get it' and are supportive."
Healey, a Democrat, welcomed the decision by some Republicans, including Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, to file their own pro-gay marriage brief with the Supreme Court.
Baker told the Boston Globe on Thursday that a friend presented him with the brief.
"I read the brief, and it's pretty consistent with my own views about this issue, and so I told him that I would be willing to sign," he said.
Healey welcomed Baker's action.
"I'm proud that Gov. Baker signed on to that brief," she said. "We in Massachusetts are and have been in a position of leading the way on this."