BOSTON (BP)–With the state attorney general refusing to follow his request, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney introduced an emergency bill April 15 that would give him the power to ask the state’s high court to delay its controversial same-sex “marriage” ruling.
The Massachusetts’ high court ruling is set to take effect May 17, meaning that the state could become the first in the nation to legally issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Romney wants the court’s decision delayed until the process of considering a state constitutional marriage amendment is complete. In March, legislators completed the first of a lengthy three-step process in passing an amendment that would ban same-sex “marriage” and legalize civil unions, although voters won’t get to consider it until 2006.
Because voters would possibly be voting to ban something that is already legal, Romney asked Attorney General Tom Reilly, a Democrat, to request a delay from the court. But Reilly refused, saying Romney’s arguments are not sound legally.
Under state law only the attorney general’s office can represent the governor.
In a news release April 15, Romney said the legislation “will allow me to protect the integrity of the constitutional process” and would “preserve the right of the citizens to make this decision rather than having it made for them by the court.”
The bill would have to pass the legislature soon in order for Romney to request the stay. But the bill may face a hurdle in the state Senate, where, according to The Boston Globe, 22 of the 40 members voted against the marriage amendment in March.
Former Massachusetts’ high court Judge Joseph R. Nolan, who served from 1981-1995, sent a letter to legislators asking them to pass the bill. He said there are “compelling legal reasons” for the court to issue a stay.
“The historic action taken by the Legislature in response to the Goodridge decision represents a significant change in circumstances in this case,” Nolan said. “This change in circumstances cannot be ignored.”
If Romney is unsuccessful, traditionalists are hoping he will issue an executive order telling clerks not to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples. While Romney has not said whether he is considering such an option, he has not ruled it out.
However, if the news release is a clue, an executive order may not be an option. The news release from Romney’s office said that city and town clerks are being sent information on training sessions on how to proceed May 17 “should the Governor be unsuccessful in obtaining a stay” — suggesting, perhaps, that an executive order is not an option.
For more information about the debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit