It’s hard to deny someone their happiness.That’s the thinking behind Pat Gozemba and Karen Kahn’s new book “Courting Equality,” which uses the photos of Beverly photographer Marilyn Humphries to tell the history of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. The Salem couple will be at Cornerstone Books this Thursday to sign copies.
“The photos really inspired us to write the book,” Kahn said. “We hadn’t been thinking about writing a book about this. When we saw the photos, we realized what an incredible documentation of a historic moment it was.”
Besides the familiar images of activists demonstrating at the Statehouse, the glossy coffee-table book also features dozens of portraits of blushing brides and grooms engaged in all the rites of marriage – from cutting the cake to catching the bouquet to dancing with family and friends.
“I hope that people will see the great joy and security that has become part of the lives of same-sex couples because of the benefit of marriage being granted in Massachusetts,” Gozemba said. “And I hope it will open people’s minds to see the inequities and prejudices that have kept us from this benefit for so many years.”
Gozemba, a retired Salem State College English professor, and Kahn, an editor, have lived together for 15 years. It wasn’t until they began working on “Courting Equality” in March 2005, however, that these Willows residents decided to get married.
“Until we started working on the book, we weren’t convinced that marriage was really important for us,” Gozemba said. “Afterward, we realized how many protections that are really critical to people’s lives are afforded through marriage. Working on the book and doing research convinced us we should get married.”
The couple were married at Cambridge City Hall on Sept. 1, 2005, though they took out their marriage application at Salem City Hall.
Working together on the book was “really fun,” Kahn said. The couple collaborated once before on Gozemba’s 2001 book “Pockets of Hope,” a collection of inspiring stories about community teaching that Kahn edited. This is the first time they have co-authored a book.
“We had a wonderful time writing the book together,” Kahn said. “We really respect each other’s opinions. Pat worked as a professor, I was an editor for many years. It’s easy for us to work with each other.”
They never pictured themselves writing a coffee-table book, but the photos speak for themselves, they said.
“We did it because we feel that the photos are so impressive that even if a person just looks through and reads the photo captions, they will get the message of the book,” Gozemba said. “We felt the photos were that powerful.”