BOSTON (AP) – Republican Gov. Mitt Romney hinted Wednesday that he would join Democratic House Speaker Thomas Finneran in trying to block the issuance of gay marriage licenses until November 2006, when citizens may have a chance to vote on a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Under a high court decision issued in November, gay couples will be allowed to marry in mid-May, more than two years before any constitutional ban could go before the voters for approval.

Before Wednesday’s constitutional convention, Romney said that he – like Finneran – was concerned about the legal chaos that would ensue if gay couples were allowed to marry during the interim.

“I would look to minimize disruption and confusion in the commonwealth,” said Romney, who watched the proceedings on closed-circuit television from his office. “I would look for ways to preserve a continuous application of the law rather than a disruptive process.”

Legal experts have called any effort to block the issuance of marriage licenses a blatant violation of the Supreme Judicial Court decision, which was reaffirmed by the court last week.

State lawmakers debated for more than six hours Wednesday but failed to agree on a constitutional amendment regarding the gay marriage question.

They were slated to begin debate again on Thursday.

Even if the Legislature approves a constitutional ban, gay marriages are slated to take place in May. Any attempts to block that would have to be through a statutory process that is separate from the constitutional amendment process under way in the Legislature.

AP-ES-02-11-04 2159EST

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