SJC: Gay couples can’t claim pre-wed benefits
Posted on July 14, 2008
Filed Under Gay News Blog
Same-sex spouses cannot sue for marital benefits that predate the 2004 legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts simply because they would have wed sooner if the law allowed, the state’s highest court ruled yesterday.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Judicial Court justices chose to make an example of the particularly tragic case of Cynthia Kalish and her spouse, Michelle Charron, who died of breast cancer at age 46 in March 2006.
Kalish, 43, of Worcester, as part of a medical malpractice action Charron brought against her doctors over a biopsy she felt should have been ordered sooner, tried to claim loss of consortium – legalese for lost companionship and intimacy. When Charron was diagnosed with cancer in 2003, less than a year before she and Kalish wed, they had been together for 13 years and raised a daughter.
But that didn’t matter, the SJC said in its six-page decision, pointing out that “to allow Kalish to recover for a loss of consortium if she can prove she would have been married but for the ban on same-sex marriage could open numbers of cases in all areas of law to the same argument.”
Chief Justice Margaret Marshall said to find for Kalish – or, for that matter, any long-term, never married straight couple – “would erase the bright line between civil marriage and other forms of relationship that has heretofore been carefully preserved by the Legislature and our prior decisons.”
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