Wednesday, July 8 2009 04:32 PM
By James W. Pindell
CONCORD -- Democratic Gov. John Lynch hasn't read the Massachusetts lawsuit against the federal government over the Defense of Marriage Act, but his opposition to the law and with state gay marriage beginning in six months, it is possible he could ask state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte to sign on to the lawsuit as one of her final actions in office. The move would force Ayotte, a Republican, to take a no-win position quickly on a high profile social issue as she begins to explore a U.S. Senate run.
When Lynch signed the same-sex marriage bill into law last month he said Congress should repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents the federal government from recognizing gay marriage, which of of particular concern in the tax code.
Earlier today Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley filed the lawsuit on behalf of her state saying that the DOMA law, passed in 1996, "constitutes an overreaching and discriminatory federal law."
When asked, Lynch spokesman Colin Manning sounded at least sympathic to the Massachusetts argument.
"Unfortunately, the federal government does not extend the same rights and protections that New Hampshire provides same-sex families, and that should change," said Manning. "As for the Massachusetts lawsuit, we have not reviewed the litigation."
Ayotte is set to resign as Attorney General on July 17th to explore a U.S. Senate run. If Lynch decides before then to have the state sign-on to the lawsuit he would put Ayotte in a tough position politically. Ayotte has to both appeal to a Republican base for the primary while at the same time not alienate voters in the general election who would be living with gay marriage for nearly a year.
If she carries out Lynch's wishes the base would be upset. If she refuses to sign the state on, she could mobilize gay organizations against her, open up negative attacks and hurt her bi-partisan image. If she lets it sit on her desk for the next person she may make everyone upset.
Quite the parting gift.