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One month away: Mass. braces for ‘gay marriage’ May 17

BOSTON (BP)–Barring something unforeseen, legalized same-sex “marriage” in America is only one month away.

The controversial court ruling in Massachusetts is set to take effect May 17 — one month from Saturday — making the state the first in America officially to recognize same-sex “marriage.” City and county officials in San Francisco and Portland, Ore., have performed same-sex “marriages,” but in both instances the ceremonies defied state law.

“This is destruction of marriage day in this country — May 17 — when we’re going to have two men allowed to legally get married, if this isn’t stopped,” Peter LaBarbera, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, told Baptist Press. “And we have Christians who don’t even know.”

The Massachusetts court released its ruling last November but issued a 180-day stay, which ends May 17. The court reaffirmed its ruling in February.

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is attempting to have the ruling delayed, although that effort appears unlikely to succeed. Romney, a Republican, sent an emergency bill to legislators April 15. The bill would allow him to ask the court to stay its ruling until citizens could vote on a constitutional marriage amendment. The state attorney general, a Democrat, has refused Romney’s request to ask the court for a stay. By state law, only the attorney general’s office can represent the governor.

“If the legislature refuses, so far as I know and based on the best judgment I have at the point, it’s done,” Romney said, according to The Boston Globe.

Ron Crews, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, said he’s “grateful” for Romney’s stance but added that the outlook for the bill is grim.

“Initial indications are that it’s going to be difficult, and that’s very disappointing,” Crews told BP.

The bill would have a tough time passing the Senate, where 22 of the 40 members voted against a state constitutional marriage amendment in March, The Globe reported. It passed only because the majority of House members voted for it in the unified session. The amendment, which would ban same-sex “marriage” while legalizing civil unions, must pass another session before it goes to voters, which would be 2006 at the earliest.

Senate President Robert E. Travaglini called Romney’s offer an attempt “to accommodate a political agenda,” The Globe reported.

One other option also appears dead — Romney issuing an executive order telling clerks not to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“He indicated … in his press conference that he would not be doing that,” Crews said. “He mentioned that that had been suggested to him. We suggested that to him. We provided a legal brief for him [showing why] we believe he does have a constitutional authority for that, but ultimately that’s his call.”

Crews said he’s concerned that if the ruling takes effect, it will become more difficult to pass the constitutional amendment come 2006.

“Once homosexual marriage begins to happen, I’m concerned that public support for passing a constitutional amendment will be more difficult,” he said.

But Crews is not giving up. He said his organization is working with pro-family legal firms in an attempt to halt the ruling. Such an attempt “probably” would have to come in federal court, he said.

If the ruling takes effect, a challenge in federal court to the Defense of Marriage Act may soon follow. That law, passed in 1996 and signed by former President Clinton, gives states the option of not recognizing another state’s same-sex “marriage.” If struck down, same-sex “marriage” presumably would be legalized nationally.

Massachusetts’ stance on marriage could play a prominent role in the presidential election. It is Democratic candidate John Kerry’s home state, and the Democratic National Convention will be held in Boston.

In addition, Kerry and President Bush are on opposite sides of a marriage amendment to the federal constitution, with Bush supporting it and Kerry opposing it. Kerry also was one of 14 senators to have voted against the Defense of Marriage Act.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit

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  • Michael Foust