BOSTON — The highest court in Massachusetts has found that civil unions for gay couples in Vermont should be treated as the equivalent of marriage in Massachusetts.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that a couple who enters into a civil union in Vermont must dissolve that union before either can get married in Massachusetts.

The ruling came in the case of two gay men who married in Massachusetts in 2005. When one filed for divorce several years later, he found that his partner had previously been in a civil union in Vermont. The man then argued that the Massachusetts marriage was invalid because of the earlier Vermont civil union.

The SJC agreed and said the Massachusetts marriage would be considered illegal polygamy. The court said the man has a spouse in Vermont, so his marriage in Massachusetts was void.

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