Yesterday, two big events happened that I'm equally excited about: The Supreme Court gave marriage equality a big step forward, and Carl Sciortino officially kicked off his campaign for Congress, running to replace Ed Markey who just got elected to the US Senate the day before. These two events are connected, going back a decade.
DOMA's legal effects were theoretical when it was passed in 1996, and became real with the gradually growing prevalence of marriage equality, which started here in Massachusetts. In 2004 we had the country's first legal same sex marriages, and Cambridge City Hall opened at midnight on the day that became allowed, to be the first to grant licenses. Yesterday we had a gathering (smaller and shorter due to happening on only a half day's notice) on the same City Hall lawn to celebrate those same marriages getting federal recognition. Rep. Sciortino was one of the people who spoke there.
With 12 states - including 4 added in the past year - it's getting harder to remember what it was like the first few years after Massachusetts, when it was Massachusetts (and Vermont's civil unions) vs. the entire rest of the country. In 2008 when California legalized same sex marriage, it was only the second state to do so, and Prop 8 overturned it later that year. In the meantime, every election, several more states passed anti-marriage amendments.
When thinking back to those years, what a lot of people don't appreciate is that Massachusetts wasn't a done deal, and that it wasn't just a court decision; we had to win this at the ballot too, several times over. By that day in May 2004 when the first licenses were granted, Massachusetts' legislature had already voted to ban gay marriage 105-92, a few months earlier.
The fight to defeat that amendment lasted four more years...