ST. THOMAS — Senate President Neville James, acting as Lieutenant Governor with Osbert Potter out of the territory on official business, refused to sign an Executive Order enabling same-sex marriages on Thursday, July 9, while acknowledging Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp was intentionally putting him in the middle of a debate in which he already had announced his opposition.
“This afternoon Governor Kenneth E. Mapp signed an Executive Order on Marriage Equality, and forwarded the Executive Order to Acting Lieutenant Governor, Senator Neville James, for him to attest or witness the Governor’s signature pursuant to section 11 of the Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands,” Government House announced in a press release earlier inthe week.
In the absence of Lieutenant Governor Osbert E. Potter, the Senate President is next in the line of succession.
Earlier in the week Sen. James had made it clear in a St. Thomas Daily News article that he supported same-sex unions but disagreed with same-sex marriage.
After Gov. Mapp had announced he would be signing the executive order, Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter left the territory on previously scheduled official business, according to published reports.
Government House announced it had “been advised by Acting Lieutenant Governor Neville James that he needs an opportunity to be advised on his duties as Acting Lt. Governor before attesting to the Governor’s signature.
“I will not be signing the executive order,” Sen. Potter told reporter Judi Shimel in a interview Thursday night, July 9. “I think they new that all along and tried to put me on the spot.
The Senate President told Shimel he had spoken with a number of his colleagues as well as political advisors and that “we’ve had a good laugh about it.”
“I want to compliment the governor,” the Senate President said with a major dose of irony. “It was unquestionably a brilliant, tactical move on the part of the governor.”
“Unfortunately for the governor, I grew up playing chess and checkers, too,” Sen. James told Shimel.