Featured Stories & Articles from Cape Cod Travel Magazine: Same-Sex Marriage on Cape Cod
Courtesy of Sarah Musumeci
On the heels of the momentous 2004 decision which legalized same sex marriage in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (not civil unions or domestic partnerships—but true legal marriage) there was an initial rush of same sex couples to the altar or town hall to pledge their vows to one another and exchange wedding rings. Provincetown took in 113 marriage license applications on May 17, 2004 and more than 1,000 applications were made on this day statewide. Two-thirds of applicants were women, and one-half of the applicants had been partners for more than a decade. Forty percent of the female couples had children in their homes.
In the first year, more than 6,200 gay and lesbian couples were married due to pent-up demand, but that number fell to only 1,900 marriages in the second year. Out of the total of more than 9,900 marriages through June 2007, 64% involve lesbian couples. Out-of-state same-sex couples can obtain a marriage license in Massachusetts, but the couple has to either pledge an intention to reside in the state or be residents of the handful of states that do not prohibit the unions, according to information from the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) of Boston. No blood test is required in Massachusetts to apply for a marriage license.
Getting Married on Cape Cod
Cape Cod is the most perfect and idyllic location for a wedding of any type. Because of the naturally liberating and welcoming environment, stunning natural beauty, proximity to major population centers, wide array of lodging options, 560 miles of sea coast and wide inventory of purveyors for any wedding ceremony, same sex couples will find a comprehensive support network of event managers, venues, and ancillary suppliers available.
One of the most liberating aspects of same sex weddings is the fact that they offer the opportunity to truly be different and quite unique. There are no set conventions or contrivances about how the ceremony is to play out. In most cases, the two grooms or brides design the ceremony completely to conform to their own personal styles and desires. Location aside, the attire, attendants, ‘best man’ or ‘maid of honor,’ throwing of the bouquet, and other conventions can all dispensed with completely. In return, each same sex wedding will be a completely different experience unto itself. One of the most exciting aspects of such a wedding is that Massachusetts is one of very few places in the world where the ceremony is truly the means to a legal consummation of marriage.
From choice of Justice of the Peace or minister, florist, reception site, limousine company, to ceremony venue—whether a church, resort, schooner or beach—Cape Cod has it all. Many couples have dreamed of beach or oceanfront wedding ceremonies because of their dramatic effect on both couples and attendees. These can be readily arranged with minor coordination from town recreation departments. Rarely, if ever, are permits required (unless a wedding ceremony occurs during summer season and parking of a large number of vehicles is required). However, wedding ceremonies have been held in almost every conceivable location—particularly along Cape Cod’s stunning sea coast, lakes and ponds, tidal rivers, at windmills, historic sites, aboard sailboats or other vessels, or various churches. Nothing can compare to exchanging wedding vows with a backdrop of an azure blue ocean, sea birds wheeling in the sky, blue skies and sand in one’s shoes (or bare feet). Such weddings are the stuff of indelible, lifelong memories.
And nowhere will same sex couples planning or about to be married find more options for an unforgettable wedding than on Cape Cod. All event venues and lodging properties welcome same-sex wedding business. For example, Provincetown’s Brass Key Guest House—and nearby sister property, Crowne Pointe Historic Inn—collaborate on continually offering magnificent nuptial arrangements. The Brass Key’s new wedding pavilion is a gorgeous and dramatic venue for the actually ceremony and champagne toast. After the ceremony, guests walk 100 steps to the Bistro at Crowne Pointe for the sit-down reception in grand style.
Provincetown, a renowned gay destination for decades, was again named “Best Gay Resort Town” for 2008 by PlanetOut, the town’s third consecutive win. This internationally known vacation destination for gay men and lesbians has a relatively high per-capita population of year-round gay residents. It is also one of the most open-minded of all Cape towns. However, same-sex couples of either gender intending to marry will receive warm welcomes and open arms in all 15 Cape towns.
Genesis of Same Sex Marriage Legalization in Massachusetts
Since May 14, 2004, when Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court’s decision, Goodrich vs. Department of Public Health, paved the way for same-sex marriages in Massachusetts, the Bay State has been a leader in providing same-sex couples many of the privileges which marriage endows upon married couples. On that date, Massachusetts became the sixth jurisdiction in the world (after Netherlands, Belgium, Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec) to legalize marriage between two same-gendered persons. Presently, same-sex marriage is legal in Belgium, Canada, Netherlands, Norway (effective January 1, 2009), South Africa and Spain and, in the United States, Massachusetts and Connecticut. The decision was met with jubilation by LGBT and enlightened people everywhere.
In its fifth year of legality, many same sex couples have married in Massachusetts—between May 17th, 2004 and June 30, 2007, 9,904 same sex couples have married; 36% were male-male and 64% were female-female marriages.
The two individuals desiring to wed on Cape Cod, Massachusetts should visit any town clerk’s office and complete a Notice of Intention of Marriage form and wait the three-day waiting period. Thereafter, return to the town hall where the process was initiated and collect the actual marriage license. The couple must have the wedding ceremony officiated, signed by the officiant and filed in order to consummate the marriage.
Many gays and lesbians inclined to hold their marriage ceremony on Cape Cod will likely have already spent time within its benevolent confines. As one of America’s gay icon communities, Cape Cod already holds a special place in the hearts and minds of LGBT folks, whether they have visited or not. However, those who choose the Cape for their wedding will primarily be returning visitors and a Cape wedding will result in a lifetime of return trips.
Warm, happy memories of happy days spent on this magical peninsula will readily be evoked every time the couple recalls the magic, majestic splendor and emotional attachment to the place where their mutual dream of love consummated through legal recognition and validation of their marriage became reality.
For help with planning your Cape Cod wedding, visit www.CapeCodMeetings.com
Information on Same Sex Weddings in Massachusetts
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For information specifically about your rights in Massachusetts, visit GLAD’s website