Mass. May Allow Out-of-State Same-Sex Marriages

May 5, 2004 ( - As Massachusetts prepares to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses on May 17, the governor's administration may be loosening its stance on the Massachusetts residents only policy.

Officials for Governor Mitt Romney have said out-of-state same-sex couples who want to marry in Massachusetts do not have to show documents proving that they live there or plan to move there. Thus, any couple claiming a Massachusetts address could be granted a license, because clerks would not be required to demand proof of residency, the Boston Globe is reporting.

The guidance came from Romney’s general counsel, Daniel Winslow who said at a training session for state clerks that clerks are entitled to ask for proof of residency, as long as they require it of all couples, not just same-sex couples. However, Winslow acknowledged that the governor has no plans to sanction clerks who decline to ask for documentation, because under state law a clerk merely “has to satisfy himself, by requiring affidavits or otherwise” that the couple is telling the truth. The signed marriage application, which includes a statement of residency, qualifies as an affidavit, Winslow said.

Winslow’s advice signals a shift in the way Romney intends to enforce a 1913 law that bars out-of-state couples from marrying here if the marriage would be void in their home state. That law was designed to uphold other states’ bans on interracial marriage.