The 5-4 ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court changed our state, and ultimately our nation forever: Same-sex marriage was a constitutional right in the state of Massachusetts.
It shook our state and our entire country. For the first time in our nation’s history, same-sex couples were deemed equal under the law in terms of our right to marry. No longer would we be second class citizens under our state’s laws. No longer would committed, loving same-sex couples be treated like legal strangers in the eyes of our state.”
Prior to the Goodridge decision, same-sex couples in Massachusetts were denied the most basic and fundamental benefits that heterosexual couples receive and indeed count on to live lives of dignity and integrity.
But the battle over marriage equality in Massachusetts was only beginning. It would be another 5 years before the Goodridge decision was truly ‘safe’ from repeal. Opponents of same-sex marriage had tried for several years (1998-2003) in Massachusetts to ban same-sex marriage. After the Goodridge decision, they tried for another 5 years (2003-2007) to overturn the ruling by changing our constitution to read that marriage would be permitted between only “one man and one woman”.
Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus (MGLPC) Co-Chair Gary Daffin noted that, “Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to defeat DOMA and would continue to do so until June 2007, when the final death blow was struck against DOMA. Between 2001 and 2007, there were over 2 dozen votes on DOMA taken by our state legislature in ‘Constitutional Conventions’ where the House and Senate met jointly to debate different versions of the measure.”
“MGLPC helped to form the coalition of straight and glbt organizations that worked to defeat DOMA in Massachusetts. And MGLPC was the organization in the coalition that led the legislative lobbying effort against DOMA from 1998 -2007. We are very proud of the role we played in this historic battle.”
“To change the constitution of Massachusetts, a measure must pass 2 consecutive legislative sessions and then go to the ballot for a final vote,” Daffin notes. “The lgbt community and its allies fought to defeat DOMA in our state legislature, so that it would never reach the ballot”.
MGLPC argued at the time that it was fundamentally un-American to allow the ‘tyranny of the majority’ to deny rights to any minority even one that was hated, feared or condemned by some.
The Goodridge decision helped to change the way Americans viewed marriage and viewed same-sex couples. The ruling permitted same-sex couples to marry six months later – beginning in May of 2004. Couples who had once thought marriage an unattainable dream were finally allowed to access the all important institution of marriage. And with that right to marry, came hundreds and hundreds of the benefits, rights, privileges and protections that only a marriage license can provide.
However the battle for marriage equality was hardly over. With a federal DOMA in place, same-sex couples would still be denied all federal marriage rights including the right to a spouse’s social security and medicare, the right to file a joint tax return, and hundreds of other critically important benefits. Those rights were granted to married Massachusetts same-sex couples only this year, when the Supreme Court of the United States deemed federal DOMA unconstitutional in those states that permitted same-sex marriage.
As the oldest lgbt political organization in Massachusetts and the organization which led the lobbying effort against DOMA in Massachusetts for 10 years, MGLPC recalls with deep joy and appreciation the courage of the Supreme Judicial Court Justices who rose to the occasion to determine that it was in fact unconstitutional in our state to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.
We applaud Former Chief Justice Margaret Marshall for the simple, powerful and beautiful wording of the Goodridge Decision. And we thank the justices, the legislators and the activists who helped Massachusetts become the first state in the nation to permit marriage equality and the first state in the nation to retain it by defeating DOMA.”
Happy Anniversary, Massachusetts!
MGLPC is the oldest lgbt political organization in Massachusetts. Prior to the legislative battles against DOMA, MGLPC led all the lobbying efforts on LGBT issues in Massachusetts for 30 years including the efforts for the Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights Bill, Domestic Partnership Benefits, Hate Crimes Legislation and against anti-gay legislation on foster care, adoption and HIV / AIDS. Today, MGLPC works on Transgender Equal Rights, Anti-Bullying Legislation, Prohibitions against Conversion Therapy, Insurance Mandates for Lipodystrophy and other efforts for LGBT Seniors and Youth.
P.O.Box 246 State House Boston MA 02133
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