Post submitted by Marilyn Humphries, photographer for Boston LGBTQ newspaper Bay Windows. Marilyn documented the Massachusetts same-sex marriage movement. Her photographs are collected in Courting Equality: A Documentary History of America’s First Same-Sex Marriages (Beacon Press, 2007).
How gratifying it is to see our nation albeit slowly but with determination change its law to make same-sex marriage legal.
Ten years ago we had no such assurance. During the years following the Goodridge decision it felt as if anything could happen. The battle raged between pro- and anti-marriage equality advocates. As a photographer, I knew that I wanted to document this history as it was unfolding.
Everyone knew, of course, that the Massachusetts battleground would have a huge impact on how and when we would attain same-sex marriage across our country and that knowledge increased the stakes on both sides.
The most remarkable of those days for me were the many constitutional conventions at the Massachusetts State House. Our days began at 6 a.m. and often ended after midnight, as legislators met together to decide if they would amend the Massachusetts constitution to take away the right of same-sex couples to wed.
In addition to the legislators and lobbyists on both sides of the issue, thousands of citizens of Massachusetts and other states gathered. They stayed at the State House twelve to fourteen hours a day chanting and singing, loud enough for the legislators to hear them in their chambers. And in those chambers many legislators—sometimes moving beyond their “comfort zones”--gave remarkable personal and heartfelt speeches about their views on civil rights.
The hard work of so many people in the LGBTQ and straight community, regular folks and leaders alike who held fast to their convictions and integrity, made this victory possible. Everyone involved knew that Goodridge was a beginning, not an end--- winning this right was very much up in the air. Every vote that took place over the next three years was hard fought.
Throughout those days I never forgot or underestimated the importance of the democratic process that was being played out and what a privilege it was to document it. And what a wonderful group of passionate, driven smart and funny people to spend those days with!
Thank you to the plaintiffs, GLAD attorneys, and MassEquality's coalition of 17 organizations that helped to make Massachusetts marriage a reality.