10 Years Ago Today, Same-Sex Couples Were Granted the Right to Marry in Massachusetts
10 years. Wow. It is hard to believe that it has ONLY been 10 years that same-sex couples have had the right to marry in MA, the first state to legally allow it. On May 17, 2004, over 250 couples obtained licenses at Cambridge City Hall, which was decorated with white organzas. Of these couples, 2/3 were women, 30% were raising children, and more than half had been together for over a decade.
Since this day, more people have embraced equality, with 17 states and DC now recognizing gay marriage and almost 55% of the American population in support of it. in 2012, Obama became the first sitting President to declare his support for gay marriage and last year the Court held Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional in Windsor v. United States. Clearly we have made amazing strides and have more work to do, but we will get there.
Do you remember where you were on May 17, ten years ago? I do. I was in Cincinnati getting my MBA at Xavier University. I remember opening up the Cincinnati Enquirer to the cryptic headline, "For Better or For Worse," and thinking, "well, obviously for better." Since then, I have had the opportunity to travel around the world with some of the most beautiful and committed couples I have ever met. Last year, two of my friends, Anne Steele and Kelli Carpenter, had a beautiful ceremony with their friends and children. Having spent many moments witnessing their loving relationship, I can not imagine a single person wanting to keep these women apart.
But there are people that want to keep them apart. And there are stories that are not as happy as Anne and Kelli's. 6 years ago, I had the privilege of working with a couple in the purchase of their condo in Cincinnati. John Arthur and James Obergefell, who were together over 20 years, worked with me in the design of their dream home Downtown. A few years later, John was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease and the couple decided to go out of state in order to get married. After jumping through many loop and overcoming hurdles, they were joined together in a 7 minute ceremony in Baltimore, the closest state they could fly to that recognized same-sex marriage. Their story has since sparked a legal case in Ohio which has expanded into other states and continues the struggle for marriage equality.
Ten years have passed quickly but the momentum is stronger than ever. We all have personal stories about gay marriage that have touched us. Made us smile and made us cry. Today, I send a virtual hug to all those who have been involved in the fight for gay marriage, to those couples who show us examples of love and commitment , and those couples whose personal journey has improved equality for us all.