Massachusetts celebrates eight-year anniversary of the freedom to marry

Today marks the eight-year anniversary of the first marriages between same-sex couples in Massachusetts, the first state in our country to embrace the freedom to marry. 

In November 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that there is no rational, legal basis to deny a marriage license to same-sex couples, and on May 17, 2004, same-sex couples began to be issued marriage licenses. 

Since the first weddings took place eight years ago, 18,462 same-sex couples have wed in the state, according to MassEquality, the statewide advocacy organization that pushed hard for the freedom to marry. Freedom to Marry's own National Campaign Director, Marc Solomon, served as Executive Director for MassEquality when the state passed the freedom to marry. 

The current Executive Director of MassEquality, Kara Suffredini, issued a statement yesterday about the anniversary:

Just eight years ago, in 2004, when Massachusetts first began honoring the marriages of same-sex couples, the issue of marriage equality was cynically exploited by the national GOP for political gain. Today, seven national polls have found that Americans explicitly support the rights of same-sex couples to marry and the days of maligning the marriages of same-sex couples to scare voters are fast ending.

That all this has occurred in less than a decade speaks to the power of the honest conversation that is taking place across America as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender residents come out to their friends, family, and neighbors. We are extremely proud that the movement for marriage equality saw its first victory in Massachusetts, where 18,462 same-sex couples have wed since May 17, 2004. In the eight years that same-sex couples have been marrying in Massachusetts, we have learned that our communities are safer, happier, and healthier when all families are respected, supported and celebrated. As time goes on and even larger majorities of Americans come to support marriage equality, we look forward to the day when all Americans can enjoy the freedom to marry.

In the eight years since same-sex couples in Massachusetts have had the freedom to marry, several states have adopted anti-gay policies restricting the freedom to marry. But in many other states, we have seen these barriers broken down as more of the population begins to understand that the freedom to marry can only strengthen families and communities. Six states - Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut, and New York - plus Washington, D.C. have the freedom to marry, and recently, Washington and Maryland passed freedom to marry bills that have not yet taken effect. According to recent polls, a majority of Americans - 53 percent - now support the freedom to marry, and the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, now has a record number of cosponsors in the House and Senate.

As this majority support increases, we must continue to celebrate states like Massachusetts, where same-sex couples have been demonstrating for eight years that the freedom to marry is positive, fair, and necessary.