This week, the Bay State passed a significant milestone. On Nov. 18, 2003, Massachusetts became the first US state, and the sixth jurisdiction in the world, to legalize same-sex marriage thanks to the decision in the Goodridge v. Department of Public Health case. Since 2003, 15 states and Washington, D.C., have joined Massachusetts in marriage equality.
If you weren’t already aware, Massachusetts is pretty much the best state ever and it leads the rest of our nation in the fight for marriage equality. Even since 2003, other cases have made the state more open. In June 2007, Massachusetts legislature helped strike down an anti-gay marriage Constitutional amendment. In July 2008, Governor Deval Patrick signed a law to allow same-sex couples from outside Massachusetts to get married here. The 2010 census stated that 20,256 same-sex couples are living in Massachusetts, about eight per 1,000 households, and there are likely many more today.
Off the momentum of Massachusetts and other states that legally recognize same-sex marriage, our federal government has made strides as well in these past 10 years with the falls of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in September 2011 and the Defense of Marriage Act in June 2013. What can the rest of the country learn from Massachusetts? Here are two steps:
Speak Up, Join Together, and Act Out!
As you likely know, nothing is accomplished watching life pass. Many groups in Massachusetts, like MassEquality, Freedom to Marry, Human Rights Campaign, and the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, fought for years to achieve marriage equality in the state. Form groups within your own state or join one if it exists to help fight for equality.
Marriage equality couldn’t have been achieved if the right people weren’t in office. Governor Patrick and members in our House of Representatives and Congress from Massachusetts helped turn your vision into reality. Vote for the legislator who will support your ideas of marriage equality.
I used to walk by Arlington Street Church, the Boston church that performed the first same-sex marriage ceremony in Massachusetts, every morning. Our city is filled with so much history, but much of it is so far removed. The history of Arlington Street Church and other pillars that have led to marriage equality in Massachusetts hit closer to home. Ten years feels like forever, and at 24, it’s hard to imagine a life in Massachusetts without marriage equality. There’s much more work to be done to continue to fight for equality around the rest of the United States. We will get there. It takes small steps like those of Massachusetts and other groups of resilient citizens and lawmakers to achieve equal love for all.