BOSTON – Lt. Governor Jane Swift vowed to make the Massachusetts Statehouse a more family-friendly place when she took over from Paul Cellucci this week.
She has promised new parental-leave policies. And under her watch, lactation rooms in state buildings for nursing working mothers will be built. These could prove useful for Swift herself, when she becomes the nation's first sitting governor to give birth when she delivers twins in June.
But anyone thinking Swift, a Republican, will show only her soft feminine side should think again. She considers herself a tough-minded politician, and doesn't shy from controversy. One of her first orders of business was to oppose one particular group fighting for marriage rights.
"I don't support same-sex marriages," she said firmly this week.
That's disheartening news for gay couples who recently filed a lawsuit against Massachusetts to allow them to marry legally.
"I'm really disappointed that the Governor has come out so early on with a negative statement," said Hillary Goodridge, who is suing the state to be able to marry her partner.
Swift says she is willing to extend some employment benefits to same-sex partners. But unlike her state's neighbor, Vermont, Swift would not legalize so-called "civil unions," which grant homosexuals many of the rights of married couples.
"I believe that the institution of marriage is one that is extremely important for our commonwealth and for our country," Swift said. "And I think preserving that right for marriage between a man and a woman holds true to the sanctity of the marriage bond."
The same-sex marriage issue will not be the first controversy Swift has faced, which is not surprising since Swift has emerged as one of the Bay State's most colorful political figures. Swift was the butt of radio talk show jokes and opinion page columns after it was revealed she used a police helicopter to fly home to Western Massachusetts for Thanksgiving, rather than endure Massachusetts Turnpike traffic on one of the busiest travel days of the year.
The same-sex lawsuit is now in the hands of a Superior Court judge who will either dismiss it or order town clerks to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
If defeated in court, supporters of gay marriage could still propose legislation. But they'd have a hard time getting any such bill past Governor Swift.
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Alisyn Camerota, an unrepentant '80s band groupie, is co-host of "America's News HQ," airing at (weekdays 1-2PM/ET on the Fox News Channel). She joined the network in 1998 as a Boston-based correspondent. Previously, Camerota served as co-host of "FOX & Friends Weekend."