UPDATE: BostInno accidentally mistook the legislative process with respect to the right to free petition. Senator Richard Ross has released the following statement announcing that he is not in support of the measure. We apologize for the misunderstanding and inconvenience.
“I have heard from numerous constituents and residents of the Commonwealth regarding Senate Bill 787, An Act relative to divorce. This was a free petition that I filed at the request of a constituent. I am not the sponsor of this legislation, nor have I ever endorsed or spoken in favor of it.
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Administration and Finance defines a ‘free petition’ as: ‘In Massachusetts all citizens have the right to petition the state legislature. This procedure is called the right of free petition. A citizen drafts and files a Petition and accompanying Bill. A legislator sponsors the Bill in the General Court. If a legislator disagrees with the contents of the Bill, he/she may indicate this by placing the phrase “By request” after his/her name.’ (http://www.mass.gov/anf/research-and-tech/legal-and-legislative-resources/ma-legislative-glossary.ht…)
First and foremost, I believe in the democratic process and true representation of the people. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts was built upon these ideals, and serves as a prime example of the legislative process. State government is not reserved solely for those who have been elected. It belongs to every citizen of Massachusetts. For that reason, when a constituent requested that I file a free petition on his behalf, I did so. While the proposal is not one that I support, I do support his right to participate in state government. This petition is now in the hands of my colleagues in the Senate and the House of Representatives, and the democratic process will allow for it to be considered and voted on by the Legislature.
Moreover, I am sorely disappointed in the careless nature with which this situation has been inaccurately reported on by the national and local media. Rather than investigate the true nature of this proposal and accurately report on the legislative process, many outlets have chosen to take a more sensational approach. Many stories have portrayed me as a primary backer and supporter of this proposal, neglecting to inform their audiences that this bill was filed based on the right of free petition without my personal endorsement”
Massachusetts certainly has some quirky laws, some of which date back to the Bay State’s puritanical days. But one bill proposed by state Senator Richard Ross would actually make sex illegal amongst parents seeking a separation until their divorce is legally granted.
According to Senate Bill 787, billed quite humorously as “legislation to prohibit certain activities within the home until a divorce is final and financial and custody issues are resolved,” says that in a divorce or separation involving children and a marital home, “the party remaining in the home shall not conduct a dating or sexual relationship within the home until a divorce is final and all financial and custody issues are resolved, unless the express permission is granted by the courts.”
Senator Ross, a Republican from Wrentham, is on a number of joint and Senate committees including, perhaps not surprisingly, the Senate Committee on Ethics and Rules.
The measure will hang out in the chamber until Monday June 30, 2014, pending concurrence.
Senator Ross’s biography on the Massachusetts Legislature’s website reads as follows:
Richard J. Ross lives in Wrentham MA, with his family and is the owner of R. J. Ross Funeral Home in Wrentham. Senator Ross has also been involved with the following ORGANIZATIONS: Wrentham Cooperative Bank (Director), Pond Home (Director), Community at Pond Meadow (Director), Kennedy Donovan Center (past President).