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By Eric Stirgus January 18, 2012

Lawmaker says Romney performed same-sex marriages as governor

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has spent a lot of time trying to convince socially conservative voters that he really, really is one of them.

Many, including one Georgia lawmaker, still do not think Romney is a true believer in their social and political principles.

State Rep. Judy Manning, a Republican from Marietta, recently told The Marietta Daily Journal that she thinks the former Massachusetts governor is a flip-flopper and she is supporting Newt Gingrich, the former Georgia congressman who was speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. We thought one of her comments deserved a spin on the Truth-O-Meter.

"When he was the governor of Massachusetts, he performed 100 — and I’m not sure this number is right, but my mind says it’s about 180 gay marriages — and now, when he is running as president on the Republican ticket, he says that marriage is between a man and a woman," Manning said in the article.

Did Romney actually perform 100 to 180 gay marriages? Didn’t Romney say in a nationally televised debate earlier this month that while he believes gay couples should have basic legal rights, one right they should not enjoy is marriage?

We were curious to find out if Manning was right, particularly since she wasn’t sure about how many marriages Romney may have performed.

Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg denied the claim.

"That is simply and completely untrue," she said.

We called Manning at her legislative office and at her home and sent the representative an email over the span of a week and did not get a reply.

Romney was elected governor in 2002 and served from 2003 to 2007. In 2003, the Massachusetts State Judicial Court ruled that same-sex couples have the legal right to marry.

Massachusetts has an obscure law that allows family members or friends to perform marriage ceremonies under a one-day marriage designation. The law includes same-sex couples.

In 2006, The Boston Globe reported that Romney approved 189 special-issue, one-day marriage designations to same-sex couples in 2005. The article was a look into Romney’s approach on gay marriage as he considered a 2008 presidential run (which he later lost in the GOP primary). A Romney spokesman said in that article that he was bound by the law and had to approve those one-day marriage designations, although he opposed gay marriage.

Maggie Gallagher, founder of the National Organization for Marriage, wrote a column in December praising Romney’s support for a federal marriage amendment and his efforts to fight against gay marriage in Massachusetts. The National Organization for Marriage has fought against same-sex marriage on the national and local level.

Romney "apparently approved many more, both before and after 2005, but we have not been able to get any records on them," Steve Baldwin, former executive director of the Council for National Policy, said in a column that appeared in the National Review late last month. "There have been Freedom of Information Act requests to get more documents about this whole issue, but the state government has not been forthcoming."

Massachusetts officials said their records of one-day marriage designations date back to 2006, not 2005, the year The Boston Globe examined. Massachusetts officials say they do not keep track of how many one-day marriage designations are approved annually for same-sex couples.

MassEquality, a Boston-based group organized to preserve same-sex marriage equality, said Romney has not been supportive of gay marriage, and the group seriously doubted that he performed any ceremonies as governor.

"The notion that Mitt Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, presided over the weddings of same-sex couples is ridiculous," Executive Director Kara Suffredini told us via email. "To the contrary -- and contrary to the promises he made while campaigning for governor -- he did everything he could to position himself as the face of the anti-marriage movement, going so far as to revive an arcane and racist anti-miscegenation law to block out-of-state same-sex couples from marrying in Massachusetts. Make no mistake, former Gov. Romney was no friend to loving same-sex couples and the thousands of children they are raising in Massachusetts."

There’s no evidence that Romney has performed any gay marriage ceremonies. It appears Rep. Manning used the wrong language to describe Romney’s actions as governor because her estimate of how many marriages she thought he performed is very similar to the number of one-day marriage designations that The Boston Globe reported.

Had Manning said Romney approved 100 to 180 one-day marriage designations, her statement would likely be correct. However, she used the word "performed," which suggests Romney actually officiated the ceremony and created a vastly different impression of the candidate’s stance on same-sex marriage for anyone who read that article.

Our rating: Pants On Fire.

Featured Fact-check

Our Sources

The Marietta Daily Journal, "Lawmakers sound off on ‘12 hopefuls," Jan. 4, 2012

Boston Globe, "SJC: Gay marriage legal in Mass.," Nov. 18, 2003

Email from MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini, Jan. 9, 2012

Email from Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg, Jan. 10, 2012

Marriage Equality New York, "Conflict for Romney on gay marriage," Jan. 2, 2006

Massachusetts one-day marriage designation instructions and frequently asked questions

National Review, "Mitt and Gay Marriage," Dec. 30, 2011

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Lawmaker says Romney performed same-sex marriages as governor

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