Press

Celebrating the third anniversary of marriage equality in Massachusetts

Date: 
May 16, 2007

Same-sex couples were extended the right to legally marry in the Bay State on May 17, 2004

Commentary available for reprint

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“[W]e’re moving forward, against great odds and at a pace that amazes those of us who remember the days when our very sexuality was criminal and our sexual and gender identities could consign us to institutions where psychiatric torture was the prescription of the day.”
— Sue Hyde, Director of Creating Change, Author of Come Out and Win

Residents of Massachusetts both celebrate our third anniversary of full marriage equality and gird our loins for yet another legislative debate and vote about the goodness of our relationships and our constitutionally guaranteed right to care for our loved ones in the best possible ways. May 17, 2007, will be a day of joy and decisive firmness that we will not go willingly into a long dark night of inequality and denigration. The good news in Massachusetts is that we have preserved a precious form of social and cultural recognition, acceptance and approval of our families. The better news is that we are all prepared to do what is necessary to maintain marriage equality in the Bay State.

As we mark this important day in Massachusetts, we can look in wonder and amazement at progress in other states. And we should. While the Task Force map highlighting nationwide relationship recognition coverage for same-sex couples shows stark emptiness across most of the country, the two stalwart “gay rights” regions of the Northeast and the Pacific Coast shade grey with important victories.

In 2007, New Hampshire and Oregon passed civil unions that offer same-sex couples broad family recognitions, nearly equivalent to marriage. Gov. Ted Kulongoski has signed Oregon’s bill into law, and New Hampshire’s governor is expected to follow suit. In Washington state, Gov. Christine Gregoire signed into law domestic partnership recognitions that are much more limited than the civil union laws in other states. Still, activists and organizers in Washington understand that the domestic partnership law is another brick in the foundation of full equality under the law for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of their state.

Perhaps most pleasantly surprising is the win in Colorado. You remember Colorado, the state that in 1992 approved Amendment 2, struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1996 because no state may make any of its citizens “strangers to the law.” Gov. Bill Ritter has put pen to paper to enact HB 1330, a second-parent adoption law. Activists and organizers are pressing him to sign SB 25, a bill to ban discrimination in employment — this from the home of the Boycott Colorado movement, launched at the 1992 Creating Change Conference in Los Angeles.

The irony for us is that we cannot yet choose between describing our glass as half full or half empty, at least not when it comes to family law and social policies. But ya know, we’re moving forward, against great odds and at a pace that amazes those of us who remember the days when our very sexuality was criminal and our sexual and gender identities could consign us to institutions where psychiatric torture was the prescription of the day.

Happy anniversary to all of us in Massachusetts! We look forward to the moment when a second, a third, a fourth state joins us in fully welcoming our families into all our communities.

Sue Hyde is the director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Creating Change Conference and author of the new book Come Out and Win: Organizing Yourself, Your Community, and Your World (Beacon Press). She is also a member of the board of directors of MassEquality.org and president of the MassEquality Education Fund’s board of directors.

Additional media resources:

A new comprehensive analysis by the Task Force shows that the 2007 state legislative season has been the most productive in the history of the LGBT movement. Read our analysis and download our accompanying graphs and map.

[ Download a high-resolution picture of Sue Hyde ]

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and 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.