Step by Step
The licensing process for same sex couples
by Wendy Mimran
You’ve declared your love and commitment to each other. You’ve shared your happiness with friends and family. And now, you’ve decided to marry. Before you embark on this wondrous lifetime journey, however, you must follow certain procedures for your marriage to be legal in Massachusetts.
Eligibility for marriage in this state depends primarily on three factors, both parties must be:
1.) at least 18 years old (or have permission to marry from judge),
2.) not married
3.) not closely related.
The state will not exclude couples because of a prior civil union or domestic partnership; however, according to Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, you need to dissolve prior civil unions if you intend to marry someone other than your intended spouse.
The marriage process begins with a blood test for the two people. Once the results are available, a physician signs certificates which state that the intended spouses do not have communicable syphilis, that women who plan to have children have been offered a voluntary screening for Rubella (German measles) and have refused or accepted and that HIV/AIDS information has been given.
The next step requires both members of the couple to bring the test results to a city or town clerk, file an intention of marriage notice and pay a small application fee. Both people are then required to swear before the clerk that all information given is true and that there are no legal obstacle to the marriage. They must also complete a supplement to the notice which is sent to the state Registry of Vital Forms and Statistics, used for such purposes as collecting child support.
Three days after filing, the parties return to the town or city hall where they submitted their application and receive their marriage license. Although this waiting period is standard practice, it is possible to obtain a waiver from a Massachusetts District or Probate Court. In any case, the license is valid for 60 days, beginning on the day after the filing of intent.
Finally-the moment everyone has been waiting for- the wedding ceremony. Anyone authorized by the state to perform marriages- a member of the clergy, a justice of the peace or your best friend can solemnize the marriage. Officiants perform one more duty: sending the signed license back to the clerk so your marriage will be officially registered with the state. Through the clerk, the couple may then obtain a marriage certificate for themselves.
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