Massachusetts is preparing to train city and town clerks to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, but that doesn't mean the governor has given up on finding a way to stop the whole thing, a spokesman for Gov. Mitt Romney said Sunday. Eric Fehrnstrom said that although the state anticipates holding training sessions for the clerks soon, the Republican governor is still looking at his "legal
options." "We are now preparing for every contingency, and while we continue to review our legal options, we are also making preparations to license same-sex couples to marry," Fehrnstrom said. "It's just smart to prepare for every contingency." Some have speculated that Romney might try to halt the issuance of licenses through an executive order.
Same-sex marriages will become legal beginning May 17 by edict of the state's supreme judicial court, which ruled in November that it is unconstitutional to ban them. The legislature, after contentious debate, has taken a preliminary vote to place a proposed amendment to the state constitution on the 2006 ballot that would ban gay marriages but establish civil unions. Romney urged Atty. Gen. Thomas Reilly to ask the supreme judicial court for a stay on issuing licenses to same-sex couples until after voters have had their say on the amendment, but Reilly refused. Fehrnstrom acknowledged that Reilly's refusal of legal help "severely limited the governor's options going forward."
Arline Isaacson, cochair of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, said it was "disheartening to hear that the governor refuses to accept the reality of the court decision." But she welcomed news of the impending training, saying, "It's good to see that someone in the administration realizes they had better set up training for town clerks or they will find themselves not only in a compromising situation legally but they'll also be creating an administrative nightmare." Ron Crews, leader of the Massachusetts Family Institute and an outspoken critic of gay marriage, said, "It is our hope that the governor will use his full authority as the chief executive to delay the implementation of the SJC decision. We believe he has constitutional authority to act."