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Mass. Gay Marriage Implications Spread Beyond State Lines

The following story is why civil marriage for gays is more than a states’ rights issue. The Dems and the GOP aren’t going to be able to hide behind this fig leaf much longer, as the impact of legal marriage for gays spills over into practical matters when state lines are crossed. reports that a Rhode Island court will have to rule on whether domestic partner benefits, specifically health care, must be extended to a same sex partner.

Cheryl McCullough married Joyce Boivin in June in Massachusetts where same-sex marriage is legal. McCullough, 60, and Boivin, 54, live in Swansea, Mass. McCullough, who worked for 27 years as a health teacher and guidance counselor at Tiverton High School, applied for health insurance shortly after the couple was married.

Although same-sex marriage is not legal in Rhode Island it is not banned either. The law is silent on a definition of what constitutes a married couple.

The labor contract between the teachers’ union and the school system recognizes a marriage as long as it’s valid in the state in which was performed. But, Tiverton schools was uncertain of the legal implications and decided to ask a judge.

To be certain that all bases where covered the school committee agreed to add Boivin to a family health plan with McCullough as long as the couple pays all extra costs. The increase in monthly fees for Boivin amount to about $500 a month.

If the court rules the school committee cannot provide the benefits Boivin and McCullough will be reimbursed.

In New England, where many people live in one state and work in another the court’s decision could have far reaching consequences.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding