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News Release

November 18, 2003

Family Law Expert Available to Comment
on Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- Alice Hearst, associate professor of government at Smith College and an expert on legal and legislative issues regarding family and marriage, is available to discuss today's ruling of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in favor of same-sex marriage.

Hearst described the decision as "remarkable," both for what it affirms and what it denies.

"The opinion recognizes the need for publicly acknowledging same-sex unions and equates denying same-sex couples the benefits of marriage to the denial of a civil right.

"Even more, the court held that justifications for denying the right to marry to same-sex couples did not even meet the "rational basis test" -- a standard that almost always results in deference to the legislative determination."

While stopping short of requiring that marriage licenses be issued, the opinion, Hearst says, "redefines civil marriage as 'the voluntary union of two persons as spouses,' overturning the common-law definition of marriage as the union between a man and a woman."

Hearst can be reached at (413) 585-3528 or After hours: (413) 582-0480.


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
News Assistant
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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