Ten years ago this month Massachusetts became the first state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, clearing the path for other states to follow. In the year 2014, same-sex marriage is still a debated subject, but with only one state that has not seen a challenge to its same-sex marriage ban the subject is much less contentious.
Mitt Romney, the governor of Massachusetts at the time, was a staunch opponent to such legislature and led a heated resistance. With opposition coming from both the local and national government, there was plenty of fear and anxiety surrounding the first few same-sex marriages.
Of course there was excitement, relief and joy but it seemed that the lasting worries outweighed the immediate “giddiness.” Ten years later, most if not all of the worry has faded and many same-sex couples from Massachusetts are celebrating their ten-year anniversary.
“Suddenly, it wasn’t a relationship between two people, but a relationship in a community of people,” Maureen Brodoff, one of many celebrating their ten-year anniversary, told the Boston Globe. Brodoff and Ellen Wade, married in 2004, expressed their surprise at the difference a marriage license makes. “Marriage hasn’t made us more or less likely to stay together,” Maureen said. “But being part of the social fabric has made us feel a part of the community.”
Same-sex couples can marry in 17 states and the District of Colombia while almost every other state has challenged in some way the existing ban on same-sex marriage, reports PolicyMic. Most recently, South Dakota saw several couples file a lawsuit to overturn the 2006 state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. North Dakota remains the only state to have an unchallenged same-sex marriage law.
North Dakota overwhelmingly supported the same-sex marriage ban in 2004, though Attorney Josh Newville, who filed the lawsuit in South Dakota, is considering a move to change the law in North Dakota as well. However, North Dakota had 75% of voters in favor of the ban and has reportedly the fewest LGBT residents at 1.7% proportional to its population.
With the seemingly mass support for same-sex marriage there is still some strong resistance. Nevertheless, the fight that has been mostly focused in the political sphere has entered the religious sector as well.
Unsurprisingly some of the opposition has originated from Christian or otherwise conservative views. However, with words of acceptance and compassion from Pope Francis, the conversations of same-sex marriage have begun in a religious context as well.
Still, the joy of celebrating a decade in the fight for marriage equality in Massachusetts has left couples like Maureen and Ellen ebullient. The anxiety was palpable, explained Ellen. “Marriage for anyone is a public declaration,” Ellen stated, “but we had to also explain publicly why we wanted to get married.” Massachusetts boasts the highest percentage of same-sex marriages in the U.S. with the rate of married couples in same-sex households at 43%.
Statistics, numbers and facts, however, are not meaningful to these same-sex couples. As Maureen joyfully says, “It was this miracle of a day.”