Passages from Massachusetts marriage ruling become popular wedding readings
January 10, 2013
Just over ten years ago, in November 2003, Margaret H. Marshall, the chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, penned a decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, which granted same-sex couples in Massachusetts the freedom to marry.
"Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family," she wrote, in part. "Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life's momentous acts of self-definition.
Wedding celebrants, who design the ceremonies for weddings and, in some jurisdictions, officiate at them, said the passage is as trendy at modern weddings as origami invitations and handing out fake mustaches at the reception to look funny in the photos. The passage is especially popular at same-sex weddings, they said.
And its use isn't restricted to Massachusetts, where the ruling was made. The New-Jersey Celebrant Institute, which trains wedding celebrants who work across the country, includes portions of the passage in packets of recommended wedding readings.
Cindy Matchett, owner of the Harvard-based Meaningful Weddings, said that for same-sex couples the Goodridge decision is an affirmation of the meaningfulness of their relationships. Even when the reader doesn't introduce the text as being from Goodridge, she said, guests at same-sex weddings recognize it.
As so many couples have seen - the couples who benefited from the decision in Massachusetts when marriages between same-sex couples began in 2004, and couples who have only recently discovered the weight of these statements - the Goodridge decision beautifully articulates many of the reasons that marriage matters. Read more about this fun and poignant wedding trend HERE.