(CNSNews.com) - Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) says that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) and former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) should not have complied with decisions by their state supreme courts that ordered legal recognition of same-sex marriages.
In an exclusive video interview with CNSNews.com, Huckabee said that, had he been in Romney’s shoes, he would not have used his executive power as governor to carry out the court’s unilateral declaration that the other branches of state government must certify same-sex marriages.
“You know, it’s interesting, the California decision as well as the Massachusetts decision, I don’t think should ever have been implemented by the governors, Schwarzenegger and Romney,” said Huckabee. “They were both decisions that the governors simply could have said the court has said that we have to do it, but let them enforce it. Because those were administrative decisions that had to put that in place and there was no mandate.”
“I would not have done that,” said Huckabee, who taped an appearance on CNSNews.com’s “Online with Terry Jeffrey” on August 15.
In a 4-3 decision issued on Nov. 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry in Massachusetts. The court gave the state legislature until May 17, 2004 to enact legislation to allow such marriages to take place.
In the intervening time, the Massachusetts legislature did not enact a law codifying same-sex marriages. Before the May 17, 2004 deadline, however, then-Gov. Romney directed that the words “bride” and “groom” on Massachusetts marriage applications be changed to “Party A” and “Party B.”
Romney’s chief legal counsel, Daniel Winslow, told justices of the peace in Massachusetts that they should carry out the decision of the court and perform same-sex marriages or resign.
"My message was: 'You took an oath, and you don't have to agree or disagree with the law, you took an oath to uphold the law. Your only job is to follow the law,’” Winslow told Pete Winn of CNSNews.com in January. “We'll leave it to the courts to litigate what the law is, but once the courts have ruled, if you've taken an oath under the constitution, you have to follow your oath.”
Some justices of the peace did resign rather than use the “Party A” and “Party B” marriage applications to conclude same-sex marriages. One of these was Kathleen Harvey of Bellingham, Mass.
"I chose to resign," Harvey told Pete Winn of CNSNews.com in January. "I personally didn't feel that same-sex marriages were marriages. If they were civil unions, I don't think that would have bothered me, but I personally didn't feel they were marriages. I just didn't want to be officiating at one of those ceremonies."
In fact, after the court-ordered May 17, 2004 deadline, then-Gov. Romney himself—who opposes same-sex marriage--did not allow all same-sex marriages to go forward in Massachusetts. Citing a 1913 Massachusetts law that said the state should not carry out marriages of individuals from other states if those marriages would not be recognized in the individuals’ home states, Romney told clerks in Massachusetts not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples from out of state.
''Massachusetts should not become the Las Vegas of same-sex marriage,'' Romney told the New York Times in April 2004. ''We do not intend to export our marriage confusion to the entire nation.''
In January, when Pete Winn of CNSNews.com made inquiries to Romney’s presidential campaign about his handling of the state supreme court decision on marriage, the campaign responded with a statement from Kris Mineau of the Massachusetts Family Institute, who the campaign indicated "had worked with the governor" on the same-sex marriage issue.
"Within hours of the November 18, 2003, Supreme Judicial Court decision legalizing gay marriage, Governor Romney publicly denounced the court's ruling and affirmed traditional marriage," Mineau said. "And that was just the beginning of his support for preserving traditional marriage.”
"Governor Romney could not have been more public or vocal in his opposition to same-sex marriage during his entire tenure as governor," he said.
"He did not create same-sex marriage; that responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, for which Chief Justice Margaret Marshall has been pleased to accept full credit and responsibility," Mineau said.
"The court's landmark ruling established same-sex marriage by judicially redefining the meaning of the word marriage," he said. "This final judicial order in the form of a declaratory judgment on May 17, 2004, was what created same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.
"Any administrative policies and procedures relative to solemnizing same-sex marriages were carried out only as a direct result of the judiciary's final action in Goodridge on May 17, 2004," he said. "Governor Romney is pro-individual and pro-traditional marriage . . . period."
When asked whether Romney’s decision to comply with his state supreme court’s order to allow same-sex marriages should disqualify him as a Republican vice-presidential nominee, Huckabee said: “Well, you know, I’ve not probably been an advocate for him in that position. And, you know, I am going to let him defend himself. And I don’t want to relive the primary. But I think that that was a very unfortunate position that he took in saying that, ‘Well, I can’t do anything about it.’ Oh, yes you can.”
Huckabee said he did not hold Romney “singularly” responsible for same-sex marriages in Massachusetts, but that he did hold him “responsible for implementing” them.
“He could have stopped it, and should have stopped it,” Huckabee said.
Asked if he would have had clerks and justices of the peace certify same-sex marriages had he been in Romney’s position, Huckabee said: “Absolutely not.”
"In my state, we passed an amendment to our constitution that declared marriage to be one man, one woman, by a 70-percent margin," Huckabee said in explaining his position. "I would have said that the people have a stronger right, if you will, than does one of three branches of government. And when you have a legislature, an executive branch, and the people, all lined up agreeing that marriage means man and woman, you can’t have a court overturn the collective will of all those other bodies. That, again, it goes back to ninth grade civics. The courts aren’t that powerful, never were intended to be."
On May 15 of this year, the California Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples also have a constitutional right to marry in that state. The ruling overturned a ballot initiative that had been approved by 61 percent of California voters in 2000 that said the state would only recognize as a marriage the union of one man and one woman.
Gov. Schwarzenegger twice vetoed bills passed by the state legislature that would have legalized same-sex marriage. When the state Supreme Court issued its ruling in May, however, he said he not only would uphold the court’s ruling, he also would oppose any effort to amend the state constitution to reverse it.
"I respect the court's decision and as governor, I will uphold its ruling," Schwarzenegger was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times. "Also, as I have said in the past, I will not support an amendment to the Constitution that would overturn this state Supreme Court ruling."
On June 17, California began legally recognizing same-sex marriages.
Proposition 8, an initiative on the November ballot in California, would amend the state constitution to say that only the union of one man and one woman will be recognized as a marriage in the state.
Huckabee on Romney, Schwarzenegger and Marriage
This is a partial transcript of former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s appearance on “Online with Terry Jeffrey.”
Huckabee: … You know, it’s interesting, the California decision as well as the Massachusetts decision, I don’t think should ever have been implemented by the governors, Schwarzenegger and Romney. They were both decisions that the governors simply could have said the court has said that we have to do it, but let them enforce it. Because those were administrative decisions that had to put that in place and there was no mandate.
Jeffrey: Right, but Governor Romney actually went ahead and certified same-sex marriages without an act of his state legislature.
Huckabee: It should never have happened. It should never have happened. And while we want to blame the courts—
Jeffrey: Does that disqualify him as a vice presidential nominee for the Republican Party?
Huckabee: Well, you know, I’ve not probably been an advocate for him in that position. And, you know, I am going to let him defend himself. And I don’t want to relive the primary. But I think that that was a very unfortunate position that he took in saying that, “Well, I can’t do anything about it.” Oh, yes you can.
Jeffrey: You hold him responsible for the same-sex marriages in Massachusetts?
Huckabee: Not singularly. I hold him responsible for implementing—
Jeffrey: He could have stopped it?
Huckabee: He could have stopped it, and should have stopped it.
Jeffrey: And if you were governor of Massachusetts you would not have gone ahead and—
Huckabee: I would not have done that.
Jeffrey: You would not have had the clerks and justices of the peace—
Huckabee: Absolutely not.
Jeffrey: Certify those marriages?
Huckabee: In my state, we passed an amendment to our constitution that declared marriage to be one man, one woman, by a 70-percent margin. I would have said that the people have a stronger right, if you will, than does one of three branches of government. And when you have a legislature, an executive branch, and the people, all lined up agreeing that marriage means man and woman, you can’t have a court overturn the collective will of all those other bodies. That, again, it goes back to ninth grade civics. The courts aren’t that powerful, never were intended to be.
Jeffrey: Governor Romney should have stood up to the Court and said, “No”?
Huckabee: He should’ve.