Mary Bonauto, the lawyer who argued the
first case to legalize gay marriage in the U.S., says the
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's order has been transformative
for the state's LGBT community.
Bonauto represented Hillary and Julie
Goodridge and six other gay couples who had been denied the right to
marry in Massachusetts.
On November 18, 2003, Massachusetts'
highest court ruled that the Massachusetts Constitution “forbids
the creation of second-class citizens.” The court added that the
government “has failed to identify any constitutionally adequate
reason for denying civil marriage to same-sex couples.”
Gay couples began marrying on May 17,
Bonauto described accompanying her
clients to get their marriage licenses as a “mob scene.”
“There were anti-sniper people on the
told Buzzfeed. “We had police escorts. And then the police
said to us, 'You gotta hold hands and walk single file,' because we
just couldn't get through the crowd.”
“The police were literally throwing
people out of the way if they blocked us in any respect. It was
incredible. The joy was just overflowing. It just was overflowing,”
In an op-ed published Monday in the
Herald, Bonauto called the ruling “transformative” for
the state's LGBT community.
“The effect has been nothing short of
transformative for LGBT citizens of the commonwealth – married or
not – whose state now treats them as full citizens, and who now can
stand up before family and friends to make those vows of commitment
and responsibility to one another if they so choose,” Bonauto
“Even as we faced down fierce and
repeated attempts to undo the Goodridge ruling by litigation
and constitutional amendments, ultimately involving every branch of
government, that affirmation of 'dignity and equality' has lifted up
so many here and across the nation.”
Bonauto added that without “the
beacon of equality from Goodridge” other victories –
including June's Supreme Court decision which led to the federal
government recognizing the legal marriages of gay couples – would
not have been possible.
“While we are still some distance
from a ruling ensuring the freedom to marry nationwide, other states
now need to deal with 'federally married' same sex couples and
examine whether they want to continue discrimination against those
couples for state purposes,” she wrote.