Twelve years ago today (May 17), as a result of the ruling of the Supreme Judicial Court in Goodrich versus the Dept. of Public Health, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. This was the spark that started the revolution that led the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that marriage was a right to be enjoyed by all American, regardless of sexual orientation. Here is a look -- culled from the archives of WGBH News -- a key moment that followed in the wake of Goodrich.
1. Legalizing gay marriage did more than ring wedding bells-- it changed the landscape of acceptance and equality for all Massachusetts citizens. In 2014, Adam Reilly wrote about how Massachusetts made gay politicians mainstream: from Charlie Baker campaigning with his openly gay brother, to Maura Healey being elected to Attorney General little notice of her sexuality.
2. In 2014, Boston Mayor Tom Menino passed away. Menino is remembered as a rock star of the LGBT community, and many consider him pivotal in the legalization of gay marriage:
On Monday, May 17, 2004, Menino proudly escorted the lead plaintiffs in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, Hillary and Julie Goodridge, with their daughter Anne, to the Marriage License window at Boston City Hall to receive the city’s first marriage license for a same-sex couple.
3. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court revved up to take on the constitutionality of gay marriage. Early on, AG Maura Healy worked to collect testimonials from same-sex couples in Massachusetts that could prove legalizing gay marriage would positively affect the lives of Americans. Healy reached out on social media, asking for heartfelt letters and videos.
4. Before gay marriage became legal nationally, many businesses stepped up to ensure protections for the LGBT community. Boston Public Radio interviewed historian Nancy Koehn to learn about how backing from big businesses could help to pass LGBT rights for all.
5. The U.S. Supreme Court passes gay marriage on June 26, 2015! Across the nation, Americans rejoiced in the court's decision. In Massachusetts, local politicians took to social media to show their support.
6. Legal scholar Kenji Yoshino spoke to WGBH News' Morning Edition on the role that Massachusetts played in the Supreme Court's decision to legalize gay marriage:
When Massachusetts had same sex marriage…. there was a headline in the Boston Globe after marriage had been validated after a year… that said the sky doesn’t fall in Massachusetts.