MA Governor signs law allowing out-of-state gays to wed

48 more states to go:

Surrounded by cheering, clapping gay-rights activists and legislators, Governor Deval Patrick today signed a bill repealing a 95-year-old statute that had prevented gay and lesbian couples from most other states from marrying in Massachusetts.

“It’s a good day,” said Patrick, declaring that the repeal will “confirm a simple truth: that is, in Massachusetts, equal means equal.”

Massachusetts will “continue to lead the way as a national leader” and affirm “all people come before their government as equals,” Patrick said in a bill-signing ceremony at the State House’s Grand Staircase. Gay marriage “is still troubling for some of our citizens,” he said, “but it is still the law.”

Patrick, who turned 52 today, also called the bill “a great birthday present.”

Marc Solomon, executive director of MassEquality, a gay-rights organization, said, “This is really a new day. We welcome everyone from New York to come here and get married. We think it’s a shame people can’t get married in their own states.”

The repeal took effect immediately, making Massachusetts the second state after California to allow same-sex couples to marry, regardless of residence. It opened the borders for potentially thousands of nonresident same-sex couples. That includes an estimated 49,000 couples from New York, where Governor David Paterson has instructed state agencies to recognize and grant benefits to gay couples who marry elsewhere, even though the Empire State does not authorize same-sex marriages.