(CNSNews.com) - Opponents of same-sex marriage call it an unexpected and remarkable move: The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has agreed to hear oral arguments on a request to block the ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in the commonwealth.
Same-sex couples have been permitted to legally marry in Massachusetts since May 17, 2004, as a result of the Supreme Judicial Court's Goodridge v. Department of Public Health decision.
The Thomas More Center, one of the groups that is appealing that ruling, said it is "extremely pleased" that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has agreed to hear oral arguments in the case. The Law Center calls this the last legal action that would be capable of stopping same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.
"This last election has shown that the people of this county do not want so-called same-sex marriage and have overwhelmingly supported constitutional amendments to ban it," said Robert Muise, the attorney who is handling the case for the Law Center.
"The citizens of Massachusetts have a constitutional right to be heard on this issue, and now they will have that opportunity."
The Thomas More Center and other groups filed the appeal on behalf of C. Joseph Doyle, the executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts.
On April 20, 2004, the Law Center petitioned a single justice to put the Goodridge decision on hold, until Massachusetts lawmakers could amend the state's constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
That petition -- and a request for an expedited appeal -- were denied; but the full court ultimately decided that Doyle's appeal could "proceed in the ordinary course," thus keeping the case alive.
The Massachusetts Supreme Court just announced that it has agreed to hear Doyle's appeal.
The Law Center argued in its brief that "what happens with the legal institution of marriage should ultimately depend on the democratic processes outlined in the Commonwealth's Constitution rather than by judicial fiat."
"The fact that the Massachusetts Supreme Court has decided to take up this issue again is remarkable," said Richard Thompson, the Law Center's president and chief counsel. "Clearly, the tide is changing in America -- moral values do matter," he added.
The Thomas More Law Center describes its mission as defending and promoting the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life through education, litigation, and related activities.
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