Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law

Mitt Romney's comments to same-sex spouses seen as insensitive

New reports have detailed an uncomfortable meeting between Mitt Romney and several same-sex spouses in Massachusetts. According to the reports, Romney met with several plaintiffs in 2004 who were involved with the landmark case, Goodridge vs. Dept of Public Health, which legalized gay marriage in the state of Massachusetts.

Romney, who was governor of the state at the time, had endorsed a constitutional amendment that barred same-sex couples from legally obtaining a marriage license.

Gay couples who met with Romney claim he showed very little interest in hearing them plead their case. During the meeting, the couples shared personal stories illustrating how legalizing gay marriage would have a positive impact for their families.

According to one report in Boston Spirit, Romney showed little empathy for the couples' concerns, remarking, "I didn't know you had families." Critics claimed the comment indicated that Romney had not taken the time to understand what the case was about, even though he was governing the first state prepared to allow gay and lesbian couples the right to legally marry.

The lead plaintiff in Goodridge vs. Dept of Public Health claimed that Romney demonstrated a lack of concern when she asked him what she should tell her biological daughter if the state decided to overturn her marriage.

"I don't really care what you tell your adopted daughter," Romney allegedly told the woman.

Regardless of how anyone votes this election season, same-sex couples should be aware of their rights under current state law. As with any marriage or relationship, complications can arise, and with same-sex marriage comes the possibility of same-sex divorce. Couples in Massachusetts with domestic partnership agreements should also know where they stand in terms of child custody, visitation and separate or shared property.

Source: Huffington Post, "Mitt Romney's Reported Interactions With Massachusetts Same-Sex Couples Detailed," Sept. 12, 2012

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