Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall, LLD’99 -- Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall, who led the state's highest court as it reshaped the Western legal world with its historic ruling approving same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, announced this morning that she would retire.

Marshall said at a news conference that her husband, former New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis, had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, and she was leaving "so that Tony and I may enjoy our final seasons together."

"Tony and I are both at an age where we have learned to value, value deeply, the precious gift of time," she said.

At the same time, she said, she was retiring, effective in October, with "deep regret" from work that she considered "thrilling."

Marshall, 66, was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court as an associate justice in 1996 by former governor William F. Weld, becoming just the second woman on the SJC, which claims to be the oldest appellate court in the Western hemisphere, having dealt with its first case in 1692. Marshall was elevated to her current post in 1999 by then-governor Paul Cellucci.

In 2003, Marshall authored the court's majority decision that for the first time in Western legal circles, found that same-sex marriages were a lawful extension of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, the state's Constitution.

"The Massachusetts Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals," Marshall wrote for the 4-3 majority. "It forbids the creation of second-class citizens."

The ruling authorizing gay marriage is still echoing through the United States, on the state and federal level, and has become part of the legal debate on the meaning of equality in the 21st century where historic views of the genders are being challenged by science and society.

Full article can be found at The Boston Globe, July 21, 2010