Finegold Takes Lead in Adding Ability to Change Gender on Marriage Certificates in Senate Bill

State Sen. Barry R. Finegold. (WHAV News photograph.)

State Sen. Barry R. Finegold played the leading role late last week in allowing residents to change their gender on marriage certificates in a larger Senate bill that would likewise permit all gender options on other state forms and documents.

The “Gender X” bill, a priority of Senate President Karen E. Spilka, aims to allow nonbinary, gender-diverse and transgender people the option of selecting a gender other than the “male” or “female” choices long offered on government documents.

“We as a commonwealth pride ourselves on inclusivity and efforts to show everyone they belong here, regardless of gender identity. This is a process we’re very proud about and steps we have taken. In Massachusetts today you can update name and gender on your driver’s license, social security card and even your birth certificate, but not your marriage certificate,” Finegold said on the Senate floor.

The lead sponsor of the current version of the bill is Sen. Joanne M. Comerford, representing Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester. It would allow “A person who is over the age of 18 or who is an emancipated minor or the parent or guardian of a person who is a minor, may request a change in the sex designation on the person’s birth record to a sex designation.”

Finegold offered the amendment, saying, “Yet marriage certificates were left behind in the conversation. This simple amendment fixes that by authorizing (the Department of Public Health) DPH to take the same process for updating both birth and marriage certificates.”

He noted, under existing law, “Marriage certificates, like birth certificates, are considered point in time records, and can only be updated if the recorded information was inaccurate at the time the record was created.”

His amendment, approved by the Senate, would allow someone to change their gender on marriage certificates if the marriage is “still legally intact” and the spouse submits a notarized statement “consenting to the amendment.”

The bill still must be approved by the House to advance.

State House News Service contributed to this report.

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