Thomas Finneran, speaker of the Massachusetts house of representatives and one of the most powerful politicians in the state, ended his silence Thursday regarding the Supreme Judicial Court's ruling last month that barring gay couples from marriage is unconstitutional, The Boston Globe reports. The speaker said the legislature has three choices in response to the court ruling: a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, a civil unions bill for same-sex couples, or doing nothing and letting the ruling stand.
"The ultimate answer to all of this is, What does the majority of the members want to do on this?" Finneran told the Globe. Politics "is the reality, and the Supreme Judicial Court has acknowledged that reality. It said, 'Legislature, [you have] six months to try to do what the political requirements are.'" Finneran added that the legislature should take into account "legal, moral, and social considerations for 270 million Americans, not just 6 million people in Massachusetts."
Other legislators and Republican governor Mitt Romney have expressed support for civil unions legislation. Democratic representative Charles A. Murphy told the Globe that he will file a bill next week that will authorize civil unions for same-sex couples while defining marriage as that between a man and a woman. He said the law would be different from the Vermont civil unions law because it would confer "all of the rights that married couples enjoy and not just a fraction of them.... My intent is to be more inclusive than Vermont."
But according to Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe, a constitutional specialist who followed the SJC ruling, civil unions will not live up to the court's mandate. "Even if you say you will give same-sex couples all the rights of marriage, the one right you did not give is the name, and that's a large part of what the opinion is about," he said.