HRC Blog

A Witness to History

Carl Sciortino is a former State Representative in Massachusetts. He is now the Executive Director of AIDS Action Committtee Massachusetts.

Carl and FriendsTen years ago, I stood with so many on the lawn of Cambridge City Hall at midnight of May 17, 2004. We were witness to history. Watching couple after couple bound out of the door, hand in hand, holding marriage certificates, with a roar of support all around. I was in the first months of my initial run for the State House, challenging my own legislator who chose to be on the wrong side of history. As a community we were in the first few months of what turned into several years of legislative debates in Massachusetts. 

That night in Cambridge I was elated that for the first time our relationships were being treated equally, but also keenly aware that we could lose it. I still expected the progress would be stopped, the marriages halted, some court would block Massachusetts from starting that first domino from falling, or that some tragic violence might occur that night. Being on those steps felt joyful, but going there felt like going to the front line to make sure we kept marching forward. I imagined that by our very presence we could push equality one step further that night. And we did.

We may have reached the point where the outcome almost seems inevitable and in reach. But ten years ago, living in Massachusetts, none of this was guaranteed. We are winning through our struggles, with our voices, and in part because of the lives of those we lost to AIDS, unwitting martyrs who showed the world that we have loved ones and families too.

While I celebrate today, I also know marriage isn’t the end, it’s just one step on this journey to full equality for all.  

Thank you to the plaintiffs, GLAD attorneys, and MassEquality's coalition of 17 organizations that helped to make marriage a reality in Massachusetts.

Read more from the Massachusetts blog series here.

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