The Math Facts on the Marriage Equality Ground
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
Statement from Sue Hyde, Task Force Massachusetts Field Organizer, Director of Creating Change Conference
On the first anniversary of legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts
The Math Facts on the Marriage Equality Ground
First anniversary clocks tick-tock forward to May 17, the first anniversary of marriage equality in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a watershed event for our state, our society and our political and social justice movement. Upwards of 6,000 same-sex couples have been married; clerks in 305 out of 351 cities and towns and in the state have issued marriage licenses to those couples. Same-sex couples are, thus far, older than opposite-sex couples who marry in our state and we are more likely to be two women than two men. Some estimates suggest that $150 million in new money was spent in Massachusetts as a result of our newly minted freedom to marry. Marriage equality is one year on and going strong.
But these cold statistics fail to convey the most important facts on the ground, that marriage equality has been good for our families, good for our communities, good for our Commonwealth and that people who live, work and vote in Massachusetts support the right to marry for all qualified couples.
In a recent poll conducted by MassEquality, our statewide organization that organizes politically to protect and defend our right to marry, 62 percent of surveyed voters expressed their support; and 61 percent said they approve of the Supreme Judicial Court's decision to allow same-sex couples to marry. Here in Massachusetts, voters don't slam our courts with the epithet "activist judges" and not a single legislator who stood with us to oppose the constitutional ban on marriage equality was defeated.
A majority of voters believe that legalizing same-sex marriage has had a positive impact on kids being raised by same-sex couples because they are better off now that their parents can marry. Two-thirds of voters polled say that they are proud that Massachusetts was the first state to allow same-sex marriages and that we do honor to the state's "tradition of being a leading state for fairness and ending discrimination."
As we said from the moment the Goodridge decision was handed down, the single most important factor in persuading people that marriage equality would be good for all of us would be the marriages of same-sex couples.
If an average of 25 people witnessed the weddings of the 6,000 couples who married, then 150,000 people participated in and observed the momentous event of a marriage between two people of the same sex. Almost all of them shared that experience with a co-worker, a family member, or a neighbor, not only because it is a lovely experience to attend a wedding, but also because in Massachusetts witnessing a gay wedding is an historic occasion and something people share with pride of place.
The exponential impact of 6,000 weddings extends further when workers in the wedding industry have contact with those couples: the administrators who rent the houses of worship and the reception halls, the bakers and the florists, the musicians and the caterers, the ministers, rabbis and justices of the peace. All of these service providers recognize that marriage is marriage is marriage. They see happy couples getting married surrounded by families and friends who share in their happiness.
Here in Massachusetts, as more and more people have been touched and moved and stirred by the happiness of same-sex couples, straight community leaders now speak on our behalf. The mayors of Cambridge, Boston and Worcester are organizing special events to mark the first anniversary of marriage equality. The chairman of the state's Democratic Party, the former CEO of Bank of America, the leader of the Massachusetts Town Clerks Association, countless members of the state legislature, media editors and leaders all across the state have made our fight for equality their fight for equality. To a woman and a man, all proclaim how simple and moving and right it was that one year ago our state became the first to welcome same-sex couples into one of the signature rites of passage in our culture.
Certainly our adversaries plan and plot our defeat. They scheme and dream of a day when Massachusetts voters will agree to dissolve the marriages of their family members, their co-workers, their neighbors, the teacher at their kids' school. But it is precisely the closeness and the intimacy and the warm celebrations that bless most marriages that make their Sisyphean task so utterly implausible and interminable.
Gov. Mitt Romney may thought himself a clever fellow when he prevented out-of-state couples from being married here, but he actually sealed the fate of his anti-gay allies. By limiting marriage to resident couples only, Romney brought to life a self-reinforcing dynamic of same-sex couples living here, marrying here, raising kids here, and taking part in civic life here, all 6,000 of us multiplied by all those who care about us. Gay and lesbian families of Massachusetts now help to weave the fabric that holds us all together. To tear us out of that fabric is to tear apart our families, communities and the Commonwealth. Although it will be months and perhaps years before we are fully secure in our right to marry, it is not a matter of "if," but "when." Do the math, Mitt!
The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.
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