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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Romney Supporting Constitutional Ban on Gay Marriage
Aired November 18, 2003 - 11:01 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: The supreme court of the state of Massachusetts came out today with a ruling, Seven couples filing a lawsuit asking to be granted marriage licenses, a 4-3 decision, they said under the state constitution that they cannot be denied right to marry.
But they didn't take at this time entire way. They have kicked it back to the state legislature. To tell us more about that I think we have Dan Lothian with us. Dan, there you are. Looking much better in person than color bars.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF: Technology sometimes just doesn't work out. But when it works out it's a great thing.
Anyway, as you were mentioning, it was essentially put on hold. So we won't see any licenses, marriage license handed out to any same sex couples at least for 180 days because what the court has done, it is allowing the state legislature to come up with anything that it wishes to come up with. There may be nothing at all.
We do know that the state lawmakers have been looking at an amendment to the constitution that would essentially call for marriage between just -- whole marriage between just a man and a woman. They have been considering that.
But legal experts believe that it would be difficult for them to really do anything that would reverse this decision in 180 days. Anything that would be put before the voters would take significantly longer period than 180 days. So it's expected that after that period of time that we could see same sex couples getting married in the state.
But no doubt this is a decision that was being closely watched for quite some time. arguments began in the case of the seven same sex couples back in march. A decision was expected in July. And that did not happen. That decision coming down, that fourth redecision coming down about an hour ago here in Massachusetts.
The court, the chief justice saying that "barred access to the protections, benefits and obligations of civil marriage, a person who enters into an intimate exclusive union with another of the same sex is arbitrarily deprived of membership in one of our community's most rewarding and cherished institutions. That exclusion is incompatible with the constitutional principles of respect of individual autonomy and equality under law."
Now, one legal expert who we spoke with said what has happened here in Massachusetts is being closely watched all across the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL MARTINEK, "LAWYERS WEEKLY": It's important to note that if the Massachusetts court lets the same sex marriage genie out of the bottle, that it's very going to be hard for other states to put that genie back into the bottle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LOTHIAN: Now there are been conservative groups that have been fighting this. And no doubt their voice will grow a lot louder. They have maintained all along that marriage is something that is sacred and it is, in their words, should be between a man and a woman.
And they're not arguing that same sex couples can't be good parents, cannot be in a nice family relationship. But what they are saying is that young children need a man and a woman. And they say they will continue their fight despite what has happened today.
One of the other things that they have brought up is that they felt that -- these are those who have opposed this, have felt any changes by the state supreme court would essentially undermine this institution of marriage. They still maintain that today.
So, Daryn, we continue to follow this story, which is very complicated being that the state supreme court has ruled in not denying same sex couples marriage, but putting it off essentially for 180 days -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Well, and just to make this even more interesting you have the three branches of government and you have the courts ruling today saying that constitutionally it must be allowed, kicking it back to the state legislature saying that they -- as you were explaining -- have to fix this and come up with how to deal with it.
But we're getting a state now from the governor of Massachusetts, Mitch Romney. And he says he disagrees with the state -- with supreme judiciary court. "Marriage is an institution between man and woman. I will support an amendment to the Massachusetts constitution to make that expressly clear. Of course we must provide basic civil rights and appropriate benefits to non-traditional couples, but marriage is a special institution that should be reserved for a man and a woman."
And out on the campaign trail, Dan, as I understand it, this governor as a candidate had said he would veto any same sex marriage legislation. So here you have the courts kicking to it the state legislature. They come up with a new law. It's going to get vetoed off the governor's desk.
LOTHIAN: Well, certainly. And this is the case while today is a major landmark decision, it is major step in this controversy, it is certainly far from over.
As you have mentioned now, we have the governor weighing in on this. And this is what he has been saying all along. So nothing new from the governor. But it does present yet another piece so this complex puzzle as the legislature figures out what to do and it has 180 days to so.
KAGAN: All right. Dan Lothian, we will let you go there in Boston and get back to you as more develops on the story.
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