- “The Massachusetts Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens.”
- – Majority Opinion, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, 2003
On November 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court granted equal marriage benefits to same sex couples. The decision provoked a searing public debate over the meaning of marriage and family, civil rights, and the role of religion in law and society. But the experiment went forward nonetheless: thousands of Massachusetts gays and lesbians married and, remarkably, the sky did not fall.
The state began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on May 17, 2004. Courting Equality captures the history that led to this landmark decision and the incredible social and political engagement that occurred in the ensuing months. In unprecedented numbers, activists for and against same-sex marriage mobilized around proposed constitutional amendments. The debates inside the Massachusetts State House were full of passion and outrage, with many legislators changing their votes after hearing from constituents who maintained that discrimination should not be written into the countryâ€™s oldest state constitution. At the same time, day after day, scores of activists chanted, sang, and stood vigil outside, intent on making their voices heard in this contentious debate. Photographer Marilyn Humphries was always on the front lines, capturing images of all the players.
Through engaging storytelling and powerful photographs, Courting Equality takes readers through the volatile public debate following the decision and introduces some of the many lesbian and gay families who have taken advantage of equal marriage laws. In Massachusetts, equal marriage has not destroyed the family but rather has reinforced the importance of love, commitment, fairness, and equality.
Gays and lesbians in other states across the country still do not have the right to marry, and many are fighting constitutional amendments that prevent this right from ever becoming a reality. Courting Equality offers a vision of how to fight and what can happen when justice truly prevails.