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Romney invokes law barring out-of-state gay couples from marrying in Mass.

Romney invokes law barring out-of-state gay couples from marrying in Mass.

Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney sent a letter to leaders of the 49 other states on Thursday, telling them that out-of-state gay couples will be barred from getting married in Massachusetts unless officials in those states inform him that same-sex weddings are permitted under their laws. In his letter to governors and attorneys general, Romney said it was his interpretation that same-sex marriages are not permitted in any other state. Because a 1913 law bars out-of-state couples from marrying in Massachusetts if the marriage would be void in their home state, no out-of-state gay couples will be granted licenses in Massachusetts when same-sex marriage becomes legal there on May 17, Romney said. Gay rights advocates have said that a legal challenge of Romney's interpretation of this law is inevitable. Thirty-nine states have passed some form of "defense of marriage" law, either as a statute or constitutional amendment, in response to the possibility of gay marriages. In three other states--New Hampshire, Vermont, and Wyoming--the marriage statutes include heterosexual gender references, according to the governor's office. Seven states--Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin--have no gender reference in their statutes but also do not affirmatively allow gay marriage. The final state, Maryland, has not passed a "defense of marriage" law but has an old statute on the books that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

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