Fifteen years ago this week, Massachusetts became the first state in America to allow same-sex marriages. Hillary and Julie Goodridge were the face of the movement. The lawsuit that made gay and lesbian marriages a reality bears their name. And, amidst great fanfare and great protests, they wed on the first day they could. WGBH Radio's Gabrielle Emanuel spoke with Aaron Schachter about the Goodridge decision and its impact. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Aaron Schachter: It's hard to remember what a big deal this was 15 years ago. “I had a sense it would be momentous in Massachusetts," said former chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Margaret Marshall, who wrote the 4-to-3 Goodridge decision. "I did not have any idea that it would be so momentous nationally and internationally.” So tell us, what was the reaction at the time?

Emanuel: This decision electrified both the advocates and the opponents of gay marriage. Before the ruling, same-sex couples actually didn't even think marriage equality was a real possibility. So there was a good deal of opposition within the LGBT community to even try to get marriage equality, the right to get married. But that opposition basically evaporated after this ruling and there was a big push to extend marriage equality to other states. On the other side, this ruling launched a massive backlash. Opponents tried nationwide to limit marriage to one woman and one man.

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Schachter: They tried to pass laws across the country.

Emanuel: Exactly. In 2004, as same-sex couples wed in Massachusetts, 13 other states had ballot initiatives to amend their state constitutions to limit marriage to heterosexual couples. It passed in all those states and then it went to other states — state after state, basically until 2012, when marriage equality was on the ballot in four different states, and it passed in all those states.

Schachter: So we have come a long way since then, so much so that many people in the younger generation don't even question same-sex marriage, don't know that there was ever an issue with it. How did we get from there to here so quickly?

Emanuel: So at the very same time that states were codifying their opposition to same-sex marriage, public opinion was shifting in the other direction. I talked to George Chauncey about this, a history professor at Columbia University and the author of “Why Marriage: The History Shaping Today's Debate over Gay Equality.” He said 15 years ago, about 60 percent of Americans opposed same-sex marriage and 30 percent supported it. Today, it's the opposite. More than 60 percent are in favor.

Schachter: So what does he say? Why did this happen so quickly?

Emanuel: I asked him that. And he said as soon as same-sex couples were able to tie the knot, they were basically humanized in the eyes of the American public. Chauncey said that was bad for the opponents. In his words, "because it was much easier for them to argue against marriage equality as an abstract possibility which could seem threatening than to argue it when you were talking about the married couples that you knew down the street, whose kids went to school with your kids.”

Schachter: So essentially, it's harder to hate something or someone you know.

Emanuel: Exactly. There are gay people in every family, every neighborhood. And that's what led to the change in public opinion.

Read more: 15 Years After Massachusetts Legalized Same-Sex Marriage, The Fight For Equality Continues

Schachter: So are we at the finish line now? Is this a done deal? No more court cases, nothing?

Emanuel: Well, that depends who you ask. I found one of the most vocal opponents from 15 years ago, and I wanted to know what she thinks today. Evelyn Reilly was with the Massachusetts Family Institute. Now she's retired, but she's still a strong opponent of same-sex marriage. And she says these past few years, she's found reason to be hopeful. "I'm a little bit more optimistic in that we are getting better judges now," Reilly said. She wants President Trump's judicial appointees to undo the changes of the past 15 years.

I spoke to Mary Bonauto, the lawyer who argued the Goodridge case here in Massachusetts, as well as the 2015 case before the Supreme Court that made same-sex marriage legal across the country. She is basically credited with crafting the decades-long legal strategy, and she said she thinks same-sex marriage is here to stay. But she says the fight for equality is not done. She pointed out that only a minority of states protect LGBTQ individuals against discrimination. And she said as a student of history, there's always a cautionary note. Even the most celebrated victories have to be protected.