American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

9 Years of marriage equality in Massachusetts

Nine years ago today gay and lesbian couples were able to get married in the United States for the first time ever. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued the nation’s first marriage equality victory several months before, ruling that the state’s constitution,

“Affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens.”

And that:

“The right to marry is not a privilege conferred by the State, but a fundamental right that is protected against unwarranted State interference.”

The lawsuit, known as Goodridge et al. v. Dept. Public Health, was brought by seven couples, represented by Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD).

Yesterday, Governor Deval Patrick marked the occasion with a moving Op/Ed in the Washington Post:

Nine years ago Friday, same-sex marriages started happening in Massachusetts, and the time since then has proved wonderfully unremarkable. The sky has not fallen. The earth has not opened to swallow us up. Thousands of good people, contributing members of our society, have made free decisions about whom to marry.

In fact, extending the freedom to marry has only had beneficial effects on the state, according to a study released this year from the UCLA Williams Institute.

LGBT-supportive policies are also linked to greater job commitment, improved workplace relationships, increased job satisfaction, and improved health outcomes among LGBT employees. LGBT employees are less likely to face discrimination in such environments and are more comfortable being open about their sexual orientation.

Within the first four years, over 10,000 gay and lesbian couples married in the state, adding as much as $100 million to the state’s economy.

But numbers aside, the greatest benefit for couples like David Wilson and Rob Compton, one of the first married in the state, is just being able to say those magic words:

“Just using the word husband brings a level of confidence that helps say to the person we’re talking with we have a right to be together, we are a couple and we love each other.”