May 17: 10-Year Anniversary of Marriage for Gay Couples in America

5/15/2014

New York – Ten years ago this week, Massachusetts became the first state in America where same-sex couples could marry. The state began issuing marriage licenses on May 17, 2004 following a landmark victory in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the case filed by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) on behalf of seven same-sex couples.

"What better way to celebrate a decade of the freedom to marry than to have the first marriage licenses issued to gay couples in the South while bringing down marriage discrimination in Idaho,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry. “Since gay couples first won the freedom to marry in Massachusetts, America has come a long way on its journey. Today a super-majority of Americans support the freedom to marry, with majorities in every region of the country and with gay couples able to marry in 40% of the country, up from zero a decade ago. Massachusetts was America’s ‘cradle of liberty,’ and the freedom to marry first won there will soon be shared by all Americans, no matter where they live.”

May 17, 2004, the first day of marriages in Massachusetts, also marked the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education – “civil rights karma,” Wolfson hailed it at the time.

Wolfson was an advisor to GLAD on Goodridge and in the years following the ruling Freedom to Marry supported the work to build on the breakthrough across the country, as well as the state campaign to protect the marriage victory from being stripped away by a constitutional amendment. The groundbreaking campaign that defeated the proposed attack amendment was led by Freedom to Marry's national campaign director Marc Solomon, who served as executive director of MassEquality.

"Massachusetts made marriage for gay couples real," said Solomon. "These loving families have demonstrated clearly to the rest of the country that the freedom to marry is an unmitigated good. It changes families' lives for the better, strengthens society, and harms no one."

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Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.