Gay marriage celebrates its 7th
anniversary in Massachusetts on Tuesday.
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.
Since then, the state has issued
thousands of marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.
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, four
states – Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa – and the
District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage. Several states,
including California, New Jersey, Washington, Hawaii, Illinois,
Oregon and Delaware, grant gay and lesbian couples all the legal
protections of marriage through civil unions or domestic