- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 20, 2004

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney yesterday asked the state’s top prosecutor to look at whether clerks in a handful of communities broke the law by issuing marriage licenses this week to same-sex couples from out of state.

Mr. Romney said he was referring eight licenses issued this week to the office of state Attorney General Tom Reilly. Mr. Romney said he would leave it up to Mr. Reilly to determine what action, if any, was needed against clerks found to be breaking state law.

The state first issued licenses to same-sex couples on Monday, and dozens of homosexuals yesterday held services as the three-day waiting period required under state law came to an end.

At the Unitarian Universalist Church in Boston, the Rev. Kim Crawford Harvie performed “marriage” services in assembly-line fashion.

“OK, I’m ready for my next couple,” said Miss Harvie, 46, who performed nearly 50 same-sex ceremonies yesterday.

In Northampton, Joan and Kim Williams became “legally recognized life partners” near a bubbling fountain in Look Park.

“In my lifetime, I never envisioned this as a possibility,” Kim Williams, 48, said. “We’ve been really overwhelmed by this.”

Massachusetts law establishes a three-day waiting period between applying for a marriage license and getting married. In February, the state Supreme Judicial Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to prohibit same-sex “marriages” and ordered the legislature to legalize the practice, making Massachusetts the first state to recognize such unions.

The state’s Republican governor this week sought to ensure that licenses were not issued to out-of-state couples.

“Of 351 cities and towns, all but three or four are following the law as we understand it,” Mr. Romney said yesterday, adding that he did not necessarily think “punitive” actions must be taken against the rogue clerks.

In Missouri yesterday, a ballot referendum over the same-sex “marriage” issue became embroiled in election-year politics, with the state’s top election official, a Republican, being sued by the state’s Democratic attorney general.

Missouri Gov. Bob Holden, a Democrat, wants a proposed state constitutional amendment prohibiting homosexual “marriage” on the ballot in the Aug. 3 state primary, a move that would keep it from affecting turnout in the Nov. 2 general election.

But Republican Secretary of State Matt Blunt has refused to set an election date until he receives the actual amendment from legislators, who passed the measure last week. He’s not expected to receive the amendment until May 28 — three days after the deadline to notify local election officials of any additions to the August ballot.

Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon sued Mr. Blunt yesterday, seeking to force him to place the issue on the Aug. 3 ballot.

Democrats fear that putting the marriage amendment on the November ballot would increase turnout by conservative voters, giving President Bush an edge in Missouri, considered a battleground state in the presidential election.

“If I were the Republican Party, I would really want this on the November ballot, because I think it would help them all the way up and down the ballot,” said political scientist Martha Kropf of the University of Missouri at Kansas City. “And if I were the Democrats, I’d be working day and night to make sure it got on the August ballot.”

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