About the Book

About the Book | About the Authors | Book Excerpt | Table of Contents

“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 country’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.

This project would not have been possible without the generous support of the ACLU of Massachusetts, Karen Rudolph and Jimi Simmons, and Wainwright Bank.

One response to “About the Book

  1. Gozemba and Kahn have done a first rate job. It is exciting because their book reads like a well written–very well written–suspense novel. Novels can be suspenseful only because the author knows what will happen next. But this isn’t a novel, and in the case of _Courting Equality_, we already know what will happen. Yet in spite of that, it reeks of nail-biting suspense. How did they do that? However they did, you will likely find yourself with racing pulse and big eyes as you read. The authors tell the history of the movement in a comprehensive way so you realize on a gut level how much change has occurred. I found myself alternatively cursing and cheering as the story unfolded. There is nothing dry about this book. It is sure to engage you and leave you with ear to ear teeth showing. I have only seen the pictures on this website, but if they are any indication of what is in the published book, as I’m sure they are, Marilyn Hunphries has provided us with unforgetable images that stand on their own, as well as boost the book to a higher level by being able to both read and see.