Decision affects 26 same-sex couples married in four towns where clerks defied former governor’s mandate not to issue licenses
BOSTON Massachusetts’ governor ordered state officials to record the marriages of 26 out-of-state gay couples whose unions were blocked by his predecessor, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
“I think that the previous administration was using a gimmick to make what I feel was a discriminatory point,” Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, said in announcing the move. “It’s a simple gesture to include the information on the register. Keeping it out was the gimmick.”
Registering the marriages in Massachusetts’ vital records won’t change the legal marriage status of the couples in their home states.
About 8,000 same-sex couples have wed in Massachusetts since a 2003 Supreme Judicial Court ruling made the state the only one to allow gays to marry. A few other states offer civil unions with similar rights for gay couples.
The court ruled that Romney could use a 1913 law to prohibit out-of-state couples from marrying there if their home states explicitly prohibit same-sex marriage. The 26 couples affected by the decision had obtained marriage licenses in four towns where clerks defied Romney’s order.
Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said the former governor was right to refuse to record the marriages because Massachusetts law does not recognize marriages between same-sex couples from outside the state. “It was Gov. Romney’s enforcement of this law that stopped gay marriage from being visited on every other state in the country,” Fehrnstrom said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 6, 2007