Happy Anniversary Massachusetts
By Cathy Kristofferson, May 17, 2013
We here in Massachusetts are waiting. Waiting for the sky to fall, the apocalypse to occur, the locusts to swarm. We have been waiting 9 long years now. Nine years and over 19,000 same-gender couples’ marriages later and none of the promised catastrophes have occurred!
We remember May 17, 2004 as a painful day for then Governor Mitt Romney (R) as he was forced to order town clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples as per the Supreme Court’s ruling.
By mid-afternoon on the day before marriage became legal, couples formed a long line outside Cambridge City Hall, on lawn chairs, adorning rain jackets to combat that light drizzle, drinking plenty of coffee to stay warm, nothing could deter them.
At one minute past midnight, the city of Cambridge began processing applications. The couples would emerge to cheers by the crowd of five thousand gathered outside City Hall.
These days, 11 States and D.C. later, similar jubilation as one state after the other, slowly win that basic civil right. So come August 1st the throngs will turn out for Minnesota, the most recent State to join the marriage equality bandwagon.
In 2006 Mitt Romney did manage to spoil some of our fun by unearthing a 1913 marriage statute that banned Massachusetts from marrying out-of-state couples, if the union would be illegal in their home state. It would take until July 2008 (and a new D-Governor) before Massachusetts could go back to marrying everyone. Did I say Romney was in pain?
And it would take until June 2007 for the opposition to be completely foiled of all attempts at “Let The People Vote” and demands for a Constitutional Amendment to define “one man, one woman” either by referendum or legislative action.
One of my favorite civil rights activist couples from the marriage fight in Massachusetts was Paul McMahon and Ralph Hogden. They are pictured here to the right with their annually updated sign. I had seen them for years before the marriage battle with their sign marking years together. Their last sign together in 2011 read “55 years together, 6 years married” before Paul died at 78. You can read Ralph’s In Memoriam here. What a long and beautiful life they had together.
And oh by the way to report, I have seen zero in the press about heterosexual marriages failing due to the advent of marriage equality here. Mitt are you reading?
And on March 9th this year Massachusetts was once again declared dead last in divorce rate for these United States. Next up from us was Washington D.C. another early purveyor of marriage equality. Seems maybe there’s not much to all those claims of the harms that will befall those who embrace marriage equality for all!