May 8, 2013

Romney Personally Issued Marriage Licenses to 189 Same-Sex Couples

Every since Mitt Romney first tossed his hat into the presidential sweepstakes in 2007, he has  repeatedly maintained that he opposes same-sex marriages and has always portrayed himself as a champion of traditional marriage.

However, in an incident that has gone mostly unreported, Romney, as Governor of Massachusetts, personally issued at least 189 one-day special marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2005. He likely issued a similar number of licenses in both 2004 and 2006 but the state records for these years are not easily available. One-day marriage licenses are in effect permits issued to a couple allowing them to designate anyone they choose to officiate at the wedding.  These special one-day marriage licenses are not to be confused with the thousands of regular marriage licenses granted to same-sex couples by Justices of the Peace and town clerks by order of Governor Romney in the aftermath of the Goodridge same-sex marriage decision.

More than any other action by Romney, these special licenses demonstrated where his heart was on the same-sex marriage issue since they were purely discretionary. There was no mandate forcing Romney to issue such licenses.  This calls into question his authenticity as an alleged social conservative candidate.

Romney began issuing the one-day marriage licenses shortly after the Massachusetts Supreme Court issued the Goodridge homosexual marriage decision. The court urged the legislature to codify its decision but to this day, this has never occurred.  The marriage statutes on the books today remain the same – only male/female marriages are legal.

Incredibly, even though the state legislature never codified the Goodridge decision, Gov. Romney unilaterally ordered his Department of Public Health to print new marriage licenses for same-sex couples and ordered all Town Clerks and Justices of the Peace to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples or lose their jobs.

Indeed, many constitutional attorneys have opined that Romney is the father of gay marriage in America since he was never compelled by the court to implement gay marriage and the Massachusetts constitution is clear that only the legislature can alter the marriage statutes.

Professor Scott Fitzgibbon of Boston College Law School wrote that the Goodridge decision “did not mandate that the executive branch issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.” Constitutional scholar Herb Titus said that Romney “exercised illegal legislative authority” and added “there was no order.  There wasn’t even any order to the Department of Public Health to do anything.” Matt Staver, Dean of Liberty Law School, said that Romney “went out and ordered to licenses to be changed, and if fact, that’s not his duty.  His duty was to abide by the legislature….the governor actually participated, in my opinion, in advancing same-sex marriage.”

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