Gay Marriage Countdown Begins

Sun. May 16, 2004 12:00 AM by

Boston, Massachusetts - Cambridge, Mass. will become the first city in America to legally grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

City Hall will open for business at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, one minute after the historic Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling that gives gay and lesbian couples the right to wed goes into effect.

A small crowd began gathering at city hall Sunday afternoon despite a light rain.

"I don't want to wait another day, another second," said Alex Fennel, a lawyer who along with her partner Sasha Hartman brought camp stools to sit on, and umbrellas to protect them from the weather.

The couple has been together for seven years.

Across the river in Boston, an official at city hall said he expected crowds to begin to lineup shortly after midnight.

Extra police have been called in to deal with crowds. A special information booth been set up outside city hall where couples will be given numbers to mark the order in which they'll be served. Inside the building about 20 city workers wearing "welcome" badges will be available to answer questions.

In addition, the city has printed 3,000 full-color brochures, which will include a letter of congratulation from Mayor Thomas M. Menino and instructions on how to obtain marriage licenses.

The brochures will contain information on how to get 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.

Boston had considered ignoring a directive from Gov. Mitt Romney to restrict marriage to Massachusetts residents but at the last minute, after advice from the city's legal department decided to abide by the governor's instruction. (story)

Nevertheless, three communities, Provincetown, Somerville, and Worcester say they will grant licenses to out-of-state gay couples. (story)

Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley called on Catholics to remember the church is opposed to same-sex marriage, but he called on people not to protest on Monday.

In a pastoral letter O'Malley said "I remind all Catholics that our sadness at what has happened should not lead us into anger against or vilification of any group of people, especially our homosexual brothers and sisters."

O'Malley has also warned priests not to perform gay marriages .

The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts also said its priests should not officiate at gay weddings.

Reconstructionist Judaism, Reform Judaism, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Church -- have endorsed gay marriages. Other denominations have left the decision regarding same-sex marriages to individual clergy.

The final legal threat to gay marriage was overcome Friday when the US Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from conservatives who called for an injunction to block same-sex marriages. With no more legal obstacles left, the state will become the first to legally wed gay couples.

Even Gov. Romney a foe of same-sex marriage says he like to attend a gay wedding.

Romney says he was invited to one marriage of gay friends, but won't be in town at the time. He says he anticipates more invitations, and that he'll accept some and will be unable to accept others.

Romney supports an amendment to the Massachusetts constitution defining marriage as the union of a man and woman.

But he says he respects the rule of law.

by Jean-Pierre O'Brien Newscenter Boston
©® 2004

Special Coverage: Gay Marriage Comes to America

This article originally appeared on Republished with permission.