BOSTON (BP)–Out-of-state same-sex couples won’t be allowed to acquire marriage licenses in Massachusetts if, as expected, a controversial ruling takes effect May 17, a spokesman for Gov. Mitt Romney said April 24.
“Because of current Massachusetts law, out-of-state couples are prohibited from marrying in Massachusetts if they cannot legally marry in their home state,” spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said, according to The Boston Globe. “The governor feels an obligation to carry out the law as it exists.”
Romney oversees the department that is in charge of handing out marriage licenses.
The governor’s statement goes further than one by Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly, who said March 30 that same-sex residents in at least 38 states would be prohibited from acquiring marriage licenses. Reilly was referring to those states with defense of marriage acts explicitly prohibiting same-sex “marriage.”
Meanwhile, the governor’s chief legal counsel has told the state’s justices of the peace that they must “marry” same-sex couples once it becomes legal. If the justices wish not to, they should resign, he said.
“Your task is straightforward and can be summed up in three words: Follow the law,” Daniel B. Winslow, Romney’s chief legal counsel, told a gathering of the Massachusetts Justices of the Peace Association, according to The New York Times. “If you hold true to your oath of office and follow the law, whether you agree with it or not, you will fulfill your duty as a justice of the peace.”
Those who refuse to do so could be violating a state antidiscrimination law if they refuse, David Fried, an official with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, said at the meeting, The Times reported.
With the clock ticking, pro-family groups are seeking legal ways to prevent the ruling from taking effect.
The American Center for Law and Justice is set to file a legal challenge April 27 on behalf of a group of state legislators who say the Massachusetts high court lacked jurisdiction to issue its controversial pro-same-sex “marriage” ruling last November. Only the governor and legislature have the authority to decide the issue, the challenge will argue. Details about the case will be announced April 27; it is not yet known if the case will be filed in federal or state court.
It will be the second legal action seeking to have the ruling either halted or delayed. On April 20, four pro-family groups filed a request with the state high court on behalf of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts seeking to have the ruling stayed until 2006, when voters may have a chance to vote on a constitutional marriage amendment. The amendment would ban same-sex “marriage” while legalizing Vermont-type civil unions.
The legalization of same-sex “marriage” in Massachusetts is the first step in a two-prong effort by supporters to have it legalized nationwide. The second step involves suing in federal court to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act — which protects other states — and have the license recognized elsewhere. The act was signed into law in 1996 and gives states the option of not recognizing another state’s same-sex “marriages.”
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit