Mass. High Court: Polygamy statute applies to marriage after undissolved civil union

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Elia-Warnken v. Elia, (MA Sup. Jud. Ct., July 26, 2012), the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that Massachusetts will recognize a Vermont same-sex civil union as equivalent to a marriage in Massachusetts. It went on to hold that the result of this is the application of Massachusetts’ polygamy statute to a partner in a same-sex civil union who subsequently enters a same-sex marriage in Massachusetts without first obtaining dissolution of the civil union. The Massachusetts marriage would thus be void.  While the polygamy statute applies to a person entering a marriage while the person has a “husband” or “wife,” the court held that these terms include any legal spousal relationship. [Thanks to Alliance Alert for the lead.]