BOSTON (AP) _ Gov. Mitt Romney took the first step toward blocking marriages by out-of-state gay couples, sending the attorney general records from 10 cases in which clerks in Massachusetts accepted applications from non-residents.
The Republican governor said he asked Democratic Attorney General Thomas Reilly to ``take whatever action he deems is appropriate'' to remind clerks to abide by his interpretation of the law, but Reilly made no prediction on what action he would take.
``He has asked us to look at this material and we will,'' Reilly said. ``What we like to do is take a look at these matters first, before I issue any opinion.''
Romney also said the Registry of Vital Statistics would not record the licenses of gay couples who don't live in Massachusetts and have no intention to move here _ an action that a gay rights attorney said could trigger a lawsuit.
``It is an aggressive move that denies the validity of a marriage,'' said attorney Mary Bonauto, who represented seven gay couples in the landmark lawsuit that led to the legalization of same-sex marriage Monday. ``Litigation is something we're going to look at very seriously.''
The 10 couples cited by Romney submitted marriage applications in either Provincetown or Springfield _ two municipalities which defied the residency requirement and responded to the governor's request for marriage records. Worcester, an openly defiant city, has not yet submitted the requested records.
Romney, a gay marriage opponent, said the out-of-state marriage applications are not legal, but that the state would take no action to track the couples down. The problem would arise, he said, if they tried to rely upon it to receive benefits in their home states.
Reilly said the fate of out-of-state gay couples was not his top priority.
``Our primary focus in the office is on the people who live in Massachusetts and reside in Massachusetts and to make sure their rights were protected,'' Reilly said, ``and I'm satisfied those rights were protected.''
Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone said Thursday the city would continue to issue licenses to out-of-state couples despite Romney's move.
``Nothing about today's announcement will deter us from continuing to treat people fairly and equitably,'' Curtatone said. ``Same-sex couples will not be treated any differently in Somerville than heterosexual couples are treated.''
Romney's announcement came at his first public appearance since Monday, when Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex couples to wed. At least 1,700 couples applied for marriage licenses Monday, according to Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.
Romney cites a 1913 statute that forbids nonresidents from marrying here if the union would not be legal in their home state. Since no other state allows gay marriage, Romney argues that out-of-state couples are prohibited from marrying in Massachusetts.
Dissenting town officials merely asked out-of-state couples to attested they knew of no impediment to their marriage.
The state Senate voted this week to repeal the 1913 law, but the repeal still would need to be approved by the far more conservative House and then survive a certain veto by Romney.