Mass. Gov. Seeks Court Injunction to Stop Issuance of Gay Marriage Licenses to Non-Residents

( [email protected] ) May 20, 2004 07:24 AM EDT

BOSTON – Governor Mitt Romney is seeking to take court action to stop out-of-state gay couples from getting married in Massachusetts after informed of the four municipalities who defied his policy by issuing gay marriage license to nonresidents. So far, no decision has been made yet on how to handle cities and towns that violate the order of the governor.

The governor demanded city and town clerks in Provincetown, Worcester, Springfield and Somerville to hand over all the marriage applications issued yesterday.

Romney spokeswoman Shawn Feddeman released a statement that read, in part, "Same-sex marriage is not legally permissible in any state in the nation except Massachusetts. We've contacted every governor and attorney general in the country, and asked them to tell us if we are wrong in our view. Not one of them has indicated that gay marriage is legal in their state."

Officials in the four towns submitted the marriage applications Wednesday morning but they still don’t feel Romney’s policy is necessary. Clerks in Provincetown, Worcester, Springfield and Somerville said publicly that they would issue licenses to all comers, regardless of where they lived, as long as they signed a form attesting that there was no known legal impediment to their union.

"They've singled out only the select few that announced a policy contrary to the governor's interpretation," Provincetown Town Manager Keith Bergman said.

"I just don't know how we're supposed to provide public service and also then operate according to Governor Romney's take on the law," said Worcester clerk David Rushford, who issued applications to 12 out-of-state couples.

"This is an unprecedented request in my 25 years of service," Rushford said. "But I'm confident that I'm acting within the law."

Romney is planning to nullify the out-of-state licenses but hasn’t announced it publicly yet after gay marriage licenses were issued Monday. An administration official said Romney was considering asking a court for an injunction that would bar the clerks from continuing to issue licenses to out-of-state gay couples.

There is already a state law that prohibits nonresidents from getting married in Massachusetts and the governor wants clerks to abide by that law. Since no other state recognizes gay marriages, Romney said, out-of-state gay couples who have no intention of moving to Massachusetts could not obtain marriage licenses.