Pro-Equality Justice Set to Become Chief of MA Supreme Court

Pro-equality Massachusetts Supreme Court Associate Justice Roderick Ireland is poised to become the first Black man to lead Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court after nomination yesterday by Deval Patrick.

Via MassLive: Ireland

Ireland was with the majority when the state Supreme Judicial Court in a 4-3 landmark decision legalized gay marriage in 2003. 

Of all the court members, Ireland may be the strongest on gay rights. In 2006, he broke with other members on the SJC when it upheld former Gov. W. Mitt Romney’s use of a 1913 law to ban same-sex couples from other states from marrying in Massachusetts. 

Under the 1913 law, Romney had said, nonresidents could not marry here if their union would be banned in their home state and they have no intention of moving to Massachusetts. 

As the lone dissenter in the ruling, Ireland said that it was “fundamentally unfair” for the state to resurrect and selectively enforce “a moribund statute” that was dormant for almost a century. Critics said the 1913 law was originally enacted to block interracial marriages. 

Patrick and state legislators in 2008 repealed the old law. 

Ireland is expected to be confirmed in December following a public interview with the Governor's Council.


  1. Joe says

    This really made me smile. Why can’t the rest of the country have the social values that Mass has?

  2. Chris Daley says

    What a great selection for Chief Justice. This is just another example of the support that the equality movement gets from straight African-American public officials. Both Gov Patrick and Justice Ireland are great examples of the (likely) thousands of public officials who are at the forefront of winning equality around the country.

    As we all know, a small but loud percentage of folks in the LGBT community constantly accuse straight African-Americans of not being good allies. I hope the rest of us continue to call them out on their use of racist stereotypes and refute their rants with facts.

  3. HawaiiBill says

    And thanks to all GLBT folks in MA who didn’t vote Republican or Green or sit at home to “protest” this election and got up and voted for the Democratic Governor. This is how a Democratic ally matters.

  4. Caleb says

    So happy Deval won another term. For this reason if nothing else.

    However, I’d like to say that simply because people point out that there are many black politicians (in the White House and in the state house of many states – see New York) that soundly reject gay equality. So pointing that out and criticizing them for it doesn’t many anyone racist. I certainly don’t think it is because they are black – though there are plenty of arguments to be made about how statistically many black communities are farther behind on the acceptance of equality for gays than other communities.

    But I think it is equally important to praise and recognize when black politicians stand up for equality as well. Deval Patrick and Roderick Ireland are two awesome leaders in their respective positions and I’m very happy to live in Massachusetts! I wish New York politicians would get a good whiff of that MA pride and get on board.

  5. Chitown Kev says

    “…there are many black politicians (in the White House and in the state house of many states – see New York) that soundly reject gay equality…”

    Uh, 8 out of 10 black Senators in the New York State house voted FOR marriage equality.

    This is the type of racist ignorance that we’re talking about.

    And Ruben Diaz identifies primarily as a Puerto Rican, not as an African American.