Massachusetts Supreme Court Rules: Civil Unions Must Be Treated As Marriages

Interestingly, the ruling came about via a bigamy-tinged case. Via press release from GLAD:

The ruling came in the case Elia-Warnken v. Elia. Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) represented Richard Elia, who obtained a license to marry Todd Warnkenin October 2005. Mr. Elia did not know at the time that Mr. Warnken was in a civil union with another person, which they had entered into in Vermont in April 2003. Mr. Warnken and Mr. Elia lived together as spouses until December 2008, and Mr. Warnken filed for divorce in April 2009. Upon learning that Mr. Warnken had never dissolved his pre-existing civil union, Mr. Elia filed a motion to dismiss the divorce complaint, arguing that because of the civil union their marriage was never valid and therefore there was nothing to dissolve. The SJC agreed. “[R]efusing to recognize a civil union would be inconsistent with the core legal and public policy concerns articulated in Goodridge … protection and furtherance of the rights of same-sex couples.”