Massachusetts governor makes his move to block marriages
April 16 2004 12:00 AM ET
Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said Thursday that he will seek emergency legislation aimed at
forestalling gay marriages, which are scheduled to become legal in Massachusetts beginning May 17. The legislation would allow Romney to appoint a special counsel who would ask the state's highest court to delay its ruling on gay marriage. The governor said it would allow him "to protect the integrity of the constitutional process." Democratic attorney general Thomas Reilly last month rejected the Republican governor's request to seek a stay from the supreme judicial court until November 2006, when voters may be given the chance to weigh in on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and legalizing civil unions. The man Romney hopes to tap as special prosecutor is retired supreme judicial court justice Joseph R. Nolan, who has called the court's November ruling legalizing gay marriage an "abomination."
The attorney general, as the state's chief legal officer, determines legal policy for the commonwealth. "This would be an unprecedented intrusion on the attorney general's authority," said attorney Robert Sherman, who served as counsel to former attorney general Scott Harshbarger.
Any legislation to stop gay marriage would likely face an uphill battle in the state senate, where 22 of the 40 members voted in March against the constitutional amendment. It passed anyway because there were enough votes among house members. Even senate president Robert Travaglini, who supported that amendment, has said there is little appetite in the chamber to block same-sex marriages on May 17.