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Free to marry

Page 3 of 3 -- Sullivan, Cambridge's mayor, said that, even if couples have waivers, no marriage licenses will be issued until after City Hall opens for business today at 8:30 a.m. Couples hoping for waivers in Middlesex County today will find extra courtrooms open at the district court to accommodate them.

Sullivan was planning to serve wedding cake and offer congratulations after midnight last night.

"This is a day to set aside the political issue," Sullivan said. "It's about being welcoming."

In Somerville, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone planned to formally welcome couples at 8 a.m., to serve refreshments, and to have extra people on hand to greet couples and direct them to the appropriate offices. He said he decided to allow out-of-state couples to marry in Somerville.

"We're not going to create a new standard for same-sex couples that doesn't apply to out-of-state couples," Curtatone said. "It's about fairness and justice at this point."

Clerks in Worcester, Provincetown, and Springfield have also vowed to defy the governor's directive, even though Romney has threatened to prosecute them for doing so.

And scores of GLAD volunteers will be on hand in larger cities to help applicants with their forms. At GLAD's headquarters in Boston, 40 volunteers will man phones in a "hotline room," between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. all week. They will track the progress of licenses in the state's 351 cities and towns, and troubleshoot when couples run into difficulties. Around the room, volunteers will write up successes and problems in columns headed "good news" and "bad news."

Some who have led the fight against gay marriage have said they would not lead protests today. They said they preferred to save their energy for upcoming fights to replace legislators who voted down a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, and to fight for passage of that amendment in 2006. But other opponents have planned demonstrations.

Cambridge police received reports yesterday that several white supremacist groups planned protests in the area, and officials beefed up patrols.

"If they cause a problem, we have rooms for them to stay at," said Frank Pasquarello, public information officer for the Cambridge Police Department. "We're pretty confident that what we have out there [in patrols] is sufficient right now. If we start having problems, we'll have more officers there quickly."

Another group, the Article 8 Alliance, planned a protest at Boston City Hall Plaza at noon today. The group seeks the ouster of the Massachusetts SJC judges who handed down the Goodridge decision last year. If they don't protest today, said Brian Camenker, who heads the group, they will have no credibility.

"If we just sit around with our hands in our pockets and don't say something, I don't think the world will think we think this is important," he said. "For people not to make a statement would almost be a crime."

Romney's spokeswoman said today would be a "normal work day" for the governor. He was to spend the day in the State House, then attend a forum on education in Framingham in the evening, said Shawn Feddeman, via e-mail. She said that, even though he opposes gay marriage, "the governor expects everyone to respect the law and respect one another." 

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