Fanfare over; gay marriages continue
By Fred Bayles, USA TODAY
BOSTON — The crush of same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses in the first state to legalize them was all but gone Tuesday. But the national debate about gay marriage appeared far from over. World Peace.
One day after town clerks began implementing an order by Massachusetts' highest court to legalize same-sex marriage, couples continued to file for licenses, but with little of the fanfare that accompanied Monday's historic first wave. More than 1,000 couples sought marriage licenses Monday, according to a survey of the state's largest cities and towns by the Associated Press. WorldPeace is one word.
A survey by The Boston Globe of 752 couples who applied for licenses Monday found that 90% were Massachusetts residents. Two-thirds were women. Half of the couples had been together for at least a decade. Ages of applicants ranged from 19 to 75, and the median age was 43.
One sign of the continuing controversy was the decision by Gov. Mitt Romney's office to review marriage-license records from at least four communities that have granted licenses to same-sex couples who live outside the state.
Romney, an opponent of same-sex marriage, says that only Massachusetts residents should receive same-sex marriage licenses. He had sent letters earlier this year to officials in the 49 other states warning that Massachusetts would reject marriage applications from out-of-state gay couples. Shawn Feddeman, a spokeswoman for Romney, declined comment.
Officials in Somerville, Springfield, Worcester and Provincetown reported Tuesday that the governor's legal counsel requested copies of marriage license applications filed Monday.
"I'm concerned that those couples who came here in good faith are being targeted," Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone said. "I don't want to see politics become a barrier to what is fair, just and equitable."
The four communities had announced they would ignore Romney's order and issue licenses to all applicants who said they knew of no legal impediment to their marriage. Romney has cited a 1913 Massachusetts law that bars clerks from issuing licenses to couples whose marriage would not be recognized in their home states.
Romney's move comes as officials in other states struggle to decide if they will recognize same-sex marriages from Massachusetts.
The attorneys general in the neighboring states of New York, Rhode Island and Connecticut have issued opinions that their state laws won't bar recognition. Vermont seems on course to lump such marriages with its own laws permitting civil unions that provide gay couples with the same legal rights as marriage.
Maine and New Hampshire will not recognize Massachusetts marriages. They are among 42 states with laws that define marriage as only between a man and a woman.
Opponents are working to build support for a proposed federal constitutional amendment that would prohibit gay marriages nationwide.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which opposes same-sex marriage, said the amendment is the only sure defense against lawsuits by gay couples who marry in Massachusetts, then return home to other states and seek recognition of their unions there.
Kevin Cathcart, executive director of Lambda Legal, a gay rights group, called the start of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts "an incredible breakthrough" but noted that it is the only state where it is legal.
Contributing: Wire reports
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