Massachusetts Law came to the forefront of American legal chatter when it legalized gay marriage a few years ago. But if you thought that was zany, recall Massachusetts is, perhaps ironically, a former puritan colony and has law codes to prove it. Every state has it’s own bizarre codes, but here’s a quick look at some of the eccentricities particular to laws of the land in Massachusetts.
Seat Belt Law. Buckle up in the Bay State. Admittedly, this isn’t the most exciting law or the most novel, but travelers through the area might want to know wearing a seat belt is in fact a legal obligation in Massachusetts. And if you don’t believe me, ask Chapter 90 Section 13A of the state’s general laws or those burly state cops on the ads saying “Buckle up: it’s the law.”
Gay Marriage. One man, one other man, one woman, one other woman. Gay marriage became allowable under Massachusetts law just a few years ago, stirring up a debate that got both sides of the political spectrum all kinds of riled up. Currently, with no overriding U.S. constitutional amendment, same-sex unions are allowed in Massachusetts and are legal and binding. Attempts by some groups to get a referendum on the subject or a legislative motion to challenge the current status are pending. In celebrity news, the two women who were among the proponents of the legislation recently announced they were splitting up.
Bye-Bye Bilingual. For those of you convinced Massachusetts is a liberal, blue, pinko leftist haven, consider that, even if that’s true, the schools all speak English. Despite dueling opinions about whether English immersion is actually best for kids learning in a second language, several years ago, state voters decided in 2003 to repeal a bilingual educational act and make English Immersion the way of the schools. I mean, it makes sense. Don’t we have referendums on how every profession should do their jobs: “The people of Massachusetts have decided the best way to do open heart surgery is with a ten blade, and thus it is now the law.”
Am I Blue? You are if it’s Sunday. As I mentioned before, Massachusetts is a former puritan state. Puritans as you might recall, weren’t so into drinking, partying, or doing anything on the Sabbath other than Sabbathing. A vestige of that is Massachusetts’ famous “Blue Laws” which “restrict business openings on Sundays and holidays.” These laws currently mean you can’t open a store on Christmas or Thanksgiving without “local police permit and approval by the State’s Division of Occupational Safety.” If you do, as recently as 2005, the Attorney General was threatening penalties. In general, stores couldn’t open before noon on Sundays and liquor stores, until 2005, couldn’t do business at all on Sundays. Needless to say there are also laws on the books about fornication, blasphemy, and Native Americans coming into Boston without armed guard. (Check out a cool Boston Globe article on the topic: (http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2005/12/04/back_and_blue/?page=2)
Law with a delicious lemon scent. Massachusetts has no shortage of junky cars on the road and no shortage of junky roads (or junky billion dollar road projects Big Dig, what?). However, there are some protections for the buyer of cars of a more lemony persuasion. Basically, if your new car, by no fault of yours, fails an inspection within seven days of the purchase, the sale can be voided. For more info, check out the state’s bright yellow page: (http://autopedia.com/html/LemonLaw/MA_lemonlaw2.html)