June 19, 2004 – Gay rights advocates are challenging an obscure, 91-year-old Massachusetts law that forbids municipal clerks from issuing marriage licenses to couples whose marriages violate marriage laws in their own states. A dozen Massachusetts municipalities joined Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) in filing two separate lawsuits that charge the 1913 Reverse Evasion statute is unconstitutional and discriminately used against same-sex couples.
"This 1913 law was enacted to prevent the state from becoming a haven for interracial couples attempting to escape [laws against interracial marriage] in their home states," Harvard Law professor Randall Kennedy stated in a GLAD news release. "That authorities today would seek to cabin the Supreme Judicial Court's landmark Goodridge ruling by resuscitating a statute tainted by racism is profoundly disturbing and regrettable." The Massachusetts State Senate repealed the law last month, but its fate in the House is uncertain. Governor Mitt Romney invoked the controversial statue to preempt the marriage of out-of-state same-sex couples, following the Massachusetts Supreme Court's February ruling that denying marriage licenses to homosexual couples was unconstitutional.