Martha B. Sosman, Mass. Supreme Court Judge Who Voted Against Gay Marriage, Dead At 56

Sunday, March 11th 2007, 4:54 pm

By: News On 6

BOSTON (AP) _ Martha B. Sosman, one of three Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court judges who voted against the landmark decision legalizing gay marriage in the state, has died, the court said Sunday. She was 56.

Family members said the cause of death Saturday night was respiratory failure, according to a statement from Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall.

Sosman was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 and had been participating in some cases by watching Webcasts of oral arguments, reading legal briefs at home and talking with other justices and law clerks by telephone.

``Justice Sosman will be remembered as one of the great justices of the Supreme Judicial Court, despite her all too brief tenure on the court,'' Marshall said in the statement.

Republican Gov. Paul Cellucci hailed Sosman as a ``conservative'' jurist when he appointed her to the high court as an associate justice in 2000.

In 2003, when a high court ruling made Massachusetts the first state in the nation to legalize gay marriage, Sosman wrote a strenuous dissent for the court's minority. In her opinion, she belittled the majority's advisory opinion, saying that it ``merely repeats the impassioned rhetoric'' of gay marriage advocates.

She said the argument to define gay partnerships as marriages versus civil unions was ``a squabble over the names to be used.''

In the majority opinion, Marshall chided Sosman, writing that she ``so clearly misses the point that further discussion appears to be useless.''

Sosman was a former assistant U.S. attorney in Massachusetts and founded an all-women law firm in 1989, where she worked until she was appointed to the Superior Court in 1993.

Gov. Deval Patrick will appoint a new justice to serve on the seven-judge panel.

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