Monday, April 02, 2007

Out-of-State Couples Welcome Here, Patrick

Comity, common sense and compassion made a rare triple appearance in Massachusetts Friday. Gov. Deval Patrick ordered that the 26 same-sex weddings of out-of-staters that then Gov. Willard Romney rejected be registered here.

The details appear in a piece in today's Boston Globe. The short of it is that even before these laws are overturned, Patrick told the Department of Public Health of the 26 marriages Romney denied, record 'em.

Almost certainly the nastiest and least defensible act of Romney's not-brief-enough tenure here was to find and use 1913 laws forbidding marriages here that would not be legal in home states. Then, the laws were to prevent interracial marriages here, thus allowing the couples to return and sue for recognition.

Massachusetts wasn't hateful enough back then to invoke these disgraceful laws. It was only when Romney had POTUS envy that he ordered them used against homosexual couples.

Even now, fairly panting in anticipation of the Presidency, Romney admits through his spokesman what he was about. "Eric Fehrnstrom, a spokesman for Romney, now a presidential candidate, responded that Romney was correct to refuse to record the marriages because Massachusetts law does not recognize marriage between same-sex couples from outside the state." In an email to the Globe, Fehrnstrom bragged or admitted, depending on your view, "It was Governor Romney's enforcement of this law that stopped gay marriage from being visited on every other state in the country. Now that Governor Romney is out of office, we are seeing an erosion of the previously strong defense of traditional marriage coming out of the executive branch."

Back where people matter more than punitive politics, Patrick's spokesman, Kyle Sullivan, says, "There was no legal basis for separating these certificates in the first place. It appears like the prior administration was politicizing a routine administrative function."

Among the suddenly officially married are two Lebanon, Connecticut, dairy-goat farmers, Mark Pearsall, 40, and Paul Trubey, 43. They married in Worcester in 2004. Pearsall's reaction is, "I think it's a wonderful thing he's decided to come out and say that he's not going to stand by this arbitrary decision that was done in, I think, a mean-spirited and politically motivated arena."

There is that matter of removing these vestiges of bigotry from the General Laws. That can't be far behind.

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