LGBTQ Equality

Love is the answer: 20 years of marriage equality in America

  Rob Boston

An important anniversary occurred last week that many folks might have overlooked: On May 17, 2004, Marcia Kadish and Tanya McCloskey were legally wed in Cambridge, Mass. It was the nation’s first legal same-sex marriage.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court had ruled the year before that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples was a violation of the state constitution. In the wake of that ruling, advocates of marriage equality began filing lawsuits in other state and federal courts, winning many and losing only a few. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which extended marriage equality nationwide.

The end of the world as we know it?

To Christian Nationalists, the end of civilization was nigh. They predicted all manner of horrific things would happen if America allowed marriage equality. Clergy, we were told, would go to prison for refusing to preside at same-sex weddings. The American family would collapse. The entire fate of Western Civilization hung in the balance!

None of this came to pass, of course. But here’s one thing that did happen: People who love each other were able to legalize those relationships and gain all the benefits – tangible and otherwise – that marriage confers.

Brian Silva, AU’s vice president of outreach and engagement, served as executive director of Marriage Equality USA during the time these court rulings were coming down. Last week, he reminded the AU staff about the Massachusetts anniversary and let us know about a powerful book that tells the stories of the people who fought on the frontlines for marriage equality.

Accounts from the frontlines

The book, The People’s Victory: Stories From The Frontlines In The Fight For Marriage Equality, is available as a free e-book for a limited time. (Or you can buy a physical copy.) These first-hand accounts from people who served time in the trenches will remind you of the difference average people can make, and their compelling stories will fill you with hope.

Take that forward as we continue to ensure that every American has the right to live and love as they see fit, free from the strictures of someone else’s religion.

P.S. Today is the 10-year anniversary of Pennsylvania’s marriage equality ruling, issued May 20, 2014, by U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III. Readers may recognize Jones as the now-retired judge who decided AU’s Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District intelligent design case in 2005. His opinion in Whitewood v. Wolf, which came out a year before Obergefell, is excellent.

Congress needs to hear from you!

Urge your legislators to co-sponsor the Do No Harm Act today.

The Do No Harm Act will help ensure that our laws are a shield to protect religious freedom and not used as a sword to harm others by undermining civil rights laws and denying access to health care.

Act Now