Gay marriage celebrates its 8th
anniversary in Massachusetts on Thursday.
It was on May 17, 2004 that
celebrations erupted in town halls across Massachusetts as the first
gay and lesbian couples legally exchanged vows after the state
Supreme Court ruled a gay marriage ban unconstitutional. The scenes
were cheerful as hundreds of well wishers rushed to witness history
unfold before their eyes.
According to the group MassEquality,
18,462 gay couples have wed in the state since 2004.
The anniversary comes as President
Barack Obama earlier this month declared his support for gay
In Provincetown, the gay Mecca of New
England, the legalization of gay marriage has created a booming gay
wedding cottage industry.
But there have been rocky moments along
the way. Years of hand wringing followed the court's decision as gay
marriage foes fought to amend the state Constitution to re-ban gay
marriage. In 2007, lawmakers decided to abandon the effort as
support for the institution grew.
The next year, lawmakers paved over an
obscure 1913 law that banned non-residents from marrying in the state
if the marriage was not recognized in their home state.
Arline Isaacson, co-chair of the
Massachusetts Gay & Lesbian Political Caucus and an architect of
gay marriage in Massachusetts, said supporters won marriage equality
by outflanking opponents.
“In order to win the right for gay
people to marry it takes a number of variables that include working
very, very hard but as importantly, working smart,” Isaacson said
on the gay rights website Outtakeonline.com.
“It means trying to think like the enemy. Trying to think like
“That's one of the things we did so
well in Massachusetts and it made all the difference in the world.
We quite literally in Massachusetts out-lobbied our opponents,
out-maneuvered our opponents, out-parliamentary procedured our
opponents and out-organized our opponents every step of the way.”
In addition to Massachusetts, seven
states – New York, Washington, Maryland, Connecticut, Vermont, New
Hampshire and Iowa – and the District of Columbia have legalized
gay marriage. Laws in Maryland and Washington have yet to take
effect and opponents have vowed to repeal them. Several states,
including California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Illinois,
Oregon and Delaware, grant gay and lesbian couples nearly all the
legal protections of marriage through civil unions or domestic