HRC Blog

Taking the Institution of Marriage for Granted

Post submitted by David Wilson, one of the seven plaintiff couples and former HRC board member.

RingsRob and I met at a Gay Fathers of Greater Boston meeting having been previously married to women. 

We took the institution of marriage and our marriage licenses for granted.  We had never been asked what our relationship was to our ex-wives during the birth of our children and numerous trips to the hospital with broken bones, strains and sprains with our kids.  Our first trip to the hospital, as a couple, ended abruptly when I was asked, “Are you next of kin?"

Off Rob went to the treatment room without me by his side. Fortunately, it was a reoccurring kidney stone problem, but we both better understood that we had no legal right to support each other during a crisis.  We had a commitment ceremony in October of 2000 as a first step in our quest for the legal recognition of our relationship.

Just a few months later, we were invited to join the Goodridge vs. the Department of Public Health law suit as one of the seven plaintiff couples.  Rob continued to visit local hospitals for seven more kidney stones, two minor surgeries and a total hip replacement.  I carried our health care proxies, living wills, power of attorney and I learned to negotiate my way in and out of hospital emergency rooms with little disruption to hospital personnel. 

After the Supreme Judicial Court win on November 18, 2003, Rob and I were legally married on May 17, 2004 with Rob’s 75-year-old mother, my 89-year-old Dad and our blended family of five adult children and five grandchildren present.  As we prepared to retire, the final hurdle fell when the Supreme Court overturned section 3 of the Defense Of Marriage Act last year. 

A coalition of LGBT and ally organizations helped us win the right to marry and we have worked this past decade to secure full equality for LGBT youth and elders, the communities of color, our transgender brothers and sisters and the HIV/AIDS community.

Thank you to the plaintiffs, GLAD attorneys, and MassEquality's coalition of 17 organizations that helped to make Massachusetts marriage a reality. Read more from the Massachusetts blog series here.

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