Seven Years Ago
May 17, 2011
May 17, 2004. I will never forget the day. More than 10,000 of us gathered on the Cambridge, MA city hall lawn where, at 12:01 AM, my friends Marcia Hams and Susan Shepherd were welcomed into the building to apply for a marriage license, the first same-sex couple to be able to legally do so in the history of our country. We cheered as Marcia and Susan left City Hall, and as every one of the hundreds of couples who entered followed suit. My friends Ralph Hodgdon and Paul McMahon, then together 49 years, were watching the news when they saw the historic celebration on television, and they raced out of their Beacon Hill apartment to Cambridge and applied for a license themselves.
At the time, I was serving as political director for the Freedom to Marry Coalition of Massachusetts. Our opponents promised us that the freedom to marry for same-sex couples would not stand. They said they’d use elections and referenda to take the right away, in Massachusetts and everywhere else. They promised dire results that would only emerge over time. Yet they failed…and they were wrong. Polling shows what I know to be true--that Massachusetts residents are proud of their first-in-the-nation status in this crucial human rights struggle.
I remember Barney Frank predicting that for most in Massachusetts, May 17, 2004 would turn out to be the biggest non-event in American history. For gays and lesbians, it was to be sure historic and life-changing to be able to finally express their commitment and love through marriage and be better able to protect themselves and their families. And for the vast majority of non-gay Massachusetts residents, Barney was right on target.
To many more anniversaries…and to many more marriage states!