Patrick weighing dozens of newly passed bills

Associated Press | 8/6/2008, 5:05 a.m.

Patrick has already signed some of the last-minute bills.

At a State House ceremony last Wednesday, surrounded by lawmakers and cheering gay rights activists, Patrick signed a bill repealing a nearly century-old law that had been used to bar same-sex couples from marrying in Massachusetts.

The elimination of the 1913 law made Massachusetts the second state in the country after California to allow gay couples from other states to wed.

In a quieter event on the same day, Patrick signed another bill formally establishing a universal pre-kindergarten program to help provide voluntary, universally accessible early education and care for preschool-aged children.

Bill signings can run the gambit from the hundreds of mundane bills signed by governors with no fanfare to those few, higher-profile bills like the 1913 law that call for a more public ceremony.

One of Massachusetts’ glitziest bill signing ceremonies came in 2006 when former Gov. Mitt Romney filled Faneuil Hall with the state’s political bigwigs — including Sen. Edward M. Kennedy — to sign the state’s landmark health care law.

Romney’s staff had an elevated stage built that allowed photographers to frame the future Republican presidential hopeful between Daniel Webster and John Quincy Adams on the massive mural at the back of Faneuil Hall — a theatrical touch Romney tried to downplay.

“I want to express appreciation to Cecil B. DeMille for organizing this,” Romney said during the ceremony. “This does classify as being over the top.”

(Associated Press)