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 Covering Gay Marriage: Massachusetts 



Gay-marriage license deluge slows to a trickle Lowell Sun, June 9, 2004

Gay Couples Celebrate Marriages in Mass. Associated Press, May 18, 2004 

Gay Couples Tie the Knot in Massachusetts Los Angeles Times, May 18, 2004

Wedding day: First gays marry; many seek licenses Boston Globe, May 18, 2004

After Decades of Courting and Waiting, Same-Sex Couples Line Up Early for a Marriage Made in Massachusetts Washington Post, May 18, 2004

Survey finds women in majority Boston Globe,
May 18, 2004

SJC denies lawmakers' motion to vacate decision on gay marriage Associated Press, May 7, 2004

Menino may defy Romney on gays Boston Globe,
May 2, 2004

Mass. Gov. Seeks to Stop Gay Marriage Associated Press, April 15, 2004

Fragile compromise seen on banning gay marriage Boston Globe, March 9, 2004




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Lowell Sun,
June 9, 2004

Gay-marriage license deluge slows to a trickle
By Jason Lefferts, Sun Staff

After an initial wave of same-sex applications since gay marriage became legal in Massachusetts three weeks ago, the number has slowed to a trickle, area clerks say.

According to a survey of 20 clerks offices in Greater Lowell, 53 percent of all license applications since May 17 have been filed by gay couples.  But an overwhelming majority of those same-sex applications were done in the first week gays were allowed to marry.

In Ayer, the town clerk has handled six marriage applications since May 17, and five of them were from gay couples in that first week.  In Bedford, all three same-sex couples who requested licenses applied in the first few days.

"It was the first week, that's been it," said Doreen Tremblay, Bedford's town clerk.  "It's been pretty quiet.  We don't expect it to be really busy."

Massachusetts on May 17 became the only state in the country to recognize gay marriage, and couples around the state flocked to city and town halls quickly to get licenses.  Some said they were planning quick weddings in order to stay ahead of any legal changes that would nullify gay marriage, and others were simply excited to get married as soon as possible after years of waiting.

In Lowell and other local communities, couples lined up outside city and town halls before opening hours, anxious to get their applications filed.

After the first week, however, the stream of gay couples seeking licenses has slowed considerably.  Lowell City Clerk Richard Johnson said as many as 25 of the 30 applications from same-sex couples came in the first week.  In Burlington, six of the nine applications from same-sex couples came on the first day.

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Associated Press,
May 18, 2004

Gay Couples Celebrate Marriages in Mass.
By David Crary, AP National Writer

BOSTON (AP) - One lesbian couple, partners for 33 years, married on a wind-swept Cape Cod beach.  Another pair wed on Boston's Beacon Hill to a jubilant chorus of "Here Come the Brides."

They were among hundreds of gay and lesbian couples who obtained marriage licenses Monday as Massachusetts, obeying a landmark order from its high court, became the first state to allow same-sex weddings.

Yet even as champagne corks popped and confetti swirled, opponents of such unions declared their determination to fight back.  "The sacred institution of marriage should not be redefined by a few activist judges," said President Bush, renewing his support for a proposed constitutional ban that has been introduced in Congress.

Many of the couples who obtained marriage licenses paid a fee to waive the normal three-day waiting period, and exchanged vows as quickly as feasible.  Ceremonies ranged from brisk city-hall procedures to elaborate church weddings, complete with champagne, cake and bridesmaids.

"This amazing day has finally arrived.  Your actions here have opened the doors for marriage to all gay and lesbian couples," said the Rev. Mykel Johnson, who married Gloria Bailey and Linda Davies on Cape Cod's Nauset Beach

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Los Angeles Times,
May 18, 2004

Gay Couples Tie the Knot in Massachusetts
On the first day of legal same-sex marriages, hundreds apply for licenses and a few obtain waivers so they can wed immediately.
By Elizabeth Mehren, Times Staff Writer

WORCESTER, Mass. - Massachusetts on Monday became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, ending a centuries-old tradition in this country that limited matrimony to one man and one woman.

Although gays and lesbians held wedding ceremonies earlier this year in San Francisco, Oregon, New York and New Mexico, the unions were not legally sanctioned.  Vermont four years ago legalized civil unions, granting same-sex couples the same rights as married people within the state, but without using the word "marriage."

In legalizing same-sex marriage, Massachusetts joined Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Canada's three most populous provinces as the only places in the world where gays and lesbians can marry.

A November ruling by the state's highest court made Monday the official launch date for gay marriage.  After Cambridge got the jump on every other community in the commonwealth by issuing licenses at 12:01 a.m., hundreds of same-sex couples flocked to city and town clerks from Barnstable on Cape Cod to Boston to Great Barrington in the western part of the state.

In Provincetown, a seaside resort where half of the full-time residents are gay and lesbian, couples seeking marriage licenses began arriving at Town Hall at 4:30 a.m. - four hours before the big wooden building was scheduled to open.  After the couples got their licenses, they stepped outside to applause from a crowd that grew larger and more jubilant as the day wore on.

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Boston Globe,
May 18, 2004


Wedding day: First gays marry; many seek licenses
By Yvonne Abraham and Michael Paulson, Globe Staff

More than 1,000 gay and lesbian couples streamed into city and town halls across the state yesterday seeking licenses to marry, as Massachusetts marked the first day of legalized same-sex matrimony.

From the tiny town of Rowley, where a town clerk opened her doors four hours earlier than usual so that a selectman could marry his partner, to Boston, where 99 gay couples were greeted by the mayor and given a wedding cake reception in a tent on City Hall Plaza, the day went smoothly, with few disruptions or protests.

Provincetown received 154 license applications, while Northampton accepted 113. Brookline took in 77, Worcester 72, and Newton 38.  Cambridge received 41 applications during daylight hours yesterday, in addition to the 227 accepted during its special first-in-the-state session that began shortly after midnight.

Scores of couples from outside Massachusetts also flocked to the clerks' offices, especially in cities and towns that had announced their willingness to issue them licenses in defiance of Governor Mitt Romney's directive that a 1913 law prohibits it.

The status of those out-of-state residents' marriages was in question yesterday.  Attorneys general from Connecticut and Rhode Island issued opinions indicating that gay marriages may be recognized in their jurisdictions, echoing a statement from New York's Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.  The opinions, while nonbinding, may hasten what many expect to be the next battle over gay marriage, whether the rights granted in Massachusetts have legal force elsewhere.

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Washington Post,
May 18, 2004

Altared State

After Decades of Courting and Waiting, Same-Sex Couples Line Up Early for a Marriage Made in Massachusetts
By Philip Kennicott, Washington Post Staff Writer

PROVINCETOWN, Mass. - Who gets married on a Monday, an ordinary Monday, the most dreary and prosaic, back-to-work day of the week?  On this little spit of land that curls its way into the Atlantic Ocean, the answer is: people who have been waiting decades for the opportunity.

This weather-beaten village at the tip of Cape Cod is once again in the historical spotlight.  Long a destination for gay couples, the town that has seen the whaling business come and go, great shoals of fish come and go and the salt industry come and go welcomed the arrival of a legal deadline, set by the State Supreme Judicial Court, to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples - making Massachusetts the first state in the union to do so.  And so with town offices opening promptly at 8 in the morning, the old definition of marriage that came with the Pilgrims - one man, one woman, no substitutions - passed into history.

People thronged the entrance to the stately white Town Hall, which like town halls across the country is where the basic passages of life are made real by paperwork.  Provincetown expected such an influx of people applying for the license that officials preregistered more than 100 couples to come and apply on the first day alone.  And come they did, 154 couples by the end of the day, making their way under a light canopy of Bradford pear trees, abloom with delicate white flowers.  They passed up the stairs and paused before the building's large, open doors, waving to the crowd that cheered them on and in.

When they emerged, there was cake (carrot with white frosting).  By 10:30, the well-pillaged communal treat was showing the strain of the day, but the crowd was still hungry for celebration.

Provincetown is a party town, where people come to take aimless Saturday strolls down a long avenue of shops, art galleries and restaurants, their heads, often enough, just a little foggy from a brace of late-brunch bloody marys.  But it is also a town where vacationers get hooked on the slate-gray blankness of the ocean and the pale blue of the sky, where party people slowly morph into locals, buy houses and torture the poor, thin, sandy earth until it blooms.  Yesterday, although it's only mid-May and the temperatures have not brought out the skintight tank tops and Speedos, it felt fully in party mode, with well-wishers, the curious and the media spilling out onto the narrow main street.

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Boston Globe,
May 18, 2004

Survey finds women in majority

By Scott S. Greenberger, Globe Staff and Bill Dedman, Globe Correspondent

Two-thirds of the gays who applied for marriage licenses yesterday were women, half of the couples had been together for at least a decade, and an enormous majority were Massachusetts residents, a Globe survey of 752 couples in 11 cities and towns found.

The survey of the men and women who waited in line from Provincetown to Springfield and many towns in between found that one-third of the applicants had children living with them.  Forty percent of female couples said they had children in their households, compared with 12 percent of the male couples.

After a rancorous back-and-forth over whether out-of-state couples should be allowed to wed here, virtually all of the survey respondents - nearly 90 percent - said they lived in Massachusetts.  That varied from 66 percent in Provincetown to 100 percent in Northampton.

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Associated Press,
May 7, 2004

SJC denies lawmakers' motion to vacate decision on gay marriage

BOSTON - The state's highest court Friday unanimously rejected an appeal by 13 state lawmakers to reverse its November decision legalizing gay marriage in Massachusetts as of May 17.

The lawmakers had argued that the Supreme Judicial Court lacked jurisdiction in the case under the state Constitution.  Instead, they argued, the Legislature and governor are empowered to determine marriage laws.

The court ruled Friday that the motion was untimely, because the case had already been decided; that the same arguments had been raised by others and rejected during the court process; and that the assertion that the court had no jurisdiction was erroneous.

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Boston Globe,
May 2, 2004

Menino may defy Romney on gays
By Rick Klein, Globe Staff

Boston may ignore Governor Mitt Romney's directives and instruct city officials not to ask gay couples for proof of residency when they apply for marriage licenses this month.

Aides to Mayor Thomas M. Menino said the mayor will move ahead if city lawyers find they can legally justify disregarding Romney's demand that officials review residency documents, part of the governor's attempt to keep out-ofstate gay couples from marrying in Massachusetts.

"There is a good chance I might defy the governor, but we're still looking at our options," the mayor said.  "It's about civil rights.  It's about uniting people.  It's about showing that we don't discriminate in the city of Boston."

By directly defying the governor, Menino, a Democrat who supports gay marriage, would be making a major political statement.  Romney, a Republican, has worked aggressively to stop gay marriage from coming to Massachusetts, through a variety of legal strategies.  But Menino said he is planning to make gay marriage as easy as possible in Boston.

On the morning of May 17, when gay marriage becomes legal in the state under a Supreme Judicial Court ruling, about 20 city workers wearing "welcome" badges will be available at City Hall to answer questions, the mayor said.  The city will set up an information booth just outside the building, where couples will be given numbers to mark the order in which they'll be served.

The city is printing 3,000 full-color brochures, which will include a letter of congratulation from Menino and instructions on how to obtain marriage licenses.  The brochures will be "how-to" guides on gay marriage and will provide information on getting the three-day waiting period for a marriage license waived by a probate court judge, on finding justices of the peace to perform weddings, and on getting to city and town halls in Boston's suburbs if Boston finds itself backed up.

Romney "wants to continue to throw up roadblocks," Menino said.  "The decision has been made by the courts.  Why continue to do end runs?  It's the law.  Let's do it right.  Let's do it with respect."

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Associated Press,
April 15, 2004

Mass. Gov. Seeks to Stop Gay Marriage

BOSTON (AP) - Gov. Mitt Romney said Thursday he will seek emergency legislation aimed at forestalling gay marriages, which are scheduled to become legal in Massachusetts on May 17.

The legislation would allow Romney to appoint a special counsel who would ask the state's highest court to delay its ruling on gay marriage.  The governor said it would allow him "to protect the integrity of the constitutional process."

"Fundamentally, I believe this is a decision which is so important it should be made by the people," Romney said.  "I would like the right to be able to represent the people and my own office before the courts in Massachusetts."

Acknowledging that victory is not assured, Romney said he would also be scheduling informational meetings for local clerks on how to handle gay marriages if the Legislature does not approve his request or if the high court rejects it.

Democratic Attorney General Thomas Reilly last month rejected the Republican governor's request to seek a stay from the Supreme Judicial Court until November 2006, when voters may have a chance to weigh in on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and legalizing civil unions.

The man Romney hopes to tap as special counsel is retired state Supreme Judicial Court Justice Joseph R. Nolan, who has called the court's November ruling legalizing gay marriage an "abomination."

The attorney general, as the state's chief legal officer, determines legal policy for the commonwealth.

"This would be an unprecedented intrusion on the attorney general's authority," said attorney Robert Sherman, who served as counsel to former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger.

Any legislation to stop gay marriage would likely face an uphill battle in the state Senate, where 22 of the 40 members last month voted against the constitutional amendment.  It passed anyway because there were enough votes among House members.

Even Senate President Robert Travaglini, who supported that amendment, has said there is little appetite in the chamber to block gay marriages May 17.

Massachusetts Family Institute president Ron Crews argued, however, that the Senate should allow the people to be heard.

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Boston Globe,
March 9, 2004

Fragile compromise seen on banning gay marriage
By Raphael Lewis, Globe Staff

After a weekend of polling and cajoling colleagues, state Senate President Robert E. Travaglini said yesterday he had marshaled a majority of lawmakers for Thursday's constitutional convention to support a compromise amendment that would ban gay marriage but create civil unions.

Travaglini cautioned, however, that "this situation is rather fluid" and that "it would be very difficult to do a head count with any degree of accuracy," but said he believed the fragile coalition would hold together in the end.

"There are conversations that happened over the weekend and continue to happen today that give me confidence that we can reach consensus by Thursday," the East Boston Democrat said.

House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran, who cosponsored the measure with Travaglini and other House and Senate leaders, told reporters that he and two lieutenants had spent most of the weekend calling House members and "asking them to support the pending compromise amendment - that we think it's probably the best we can do, given the circumstances."

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