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Marriage equality, finally.

My wonderful home state of Massachusetts was the first to grant marriage equality to same sex couples, eleven years ago. Now the rest have finally come along to the right side of history. Back then I wrote a little article about it, which exists here for now.

Because I'm afraid it may disappear, I'll put the whole article behind the cut:

We do

A Massachusetts resident's account of the midnight gay marriage fest

By Jeffrey Taylor

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--In Massachusetts, land of the blue law (moral codes written into official law by our Puritan founders), amazing changes have been taking place. Over the past couple of years, we have seen the blue laws forbidding sodomy, tattoo parlors and Sunday liquor sales fall away quietly like flower petals, with little or no protest. However, when the Supreme Judicial Court ruling stated that marriage licenses must be given regardless of the spouses' genders, there was some resistance. Our governor, Republican and Utahan Mitt Romney, tried to block the court's decision. Romney even dug up a long-forgotten blue law, a statute written to prevent interracial marriages, in his righteous yet fruitless cause. Additional opposition came from the Archdiocese, who, despite failing to make a stand against child rape, stands firmly against the right of two adults of the same sex to consensually marry.

Ultimately, the resistance was overcome, and supporters of same-sex marriage, including the city of Cambridge (referred to by denizens, not wags, as "The People's Republic") are in a celebratory mood. The city announced it would take the earliest-possible moment to legally issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples (12:01 a.m., May 17). City spokespeople hinted that a party might occur. I thought it would be fun to go see.

I got there at 10:30 or so, and there were already hundreds of people gathered on the lawn of City Hall. The police, in great numbers, many of them in riot armor, tried to keep sidewalk traffic moving. As midnight approached, the sheer number of people made keeping the sidewalk clear impossible. The police shut down three blocks of Massachusetts Avenue (the main artery through Cambridge) and let the street be part of the celebration.

The mood was exciting. It was an almost-spontaneous gathering of more than a thousand souls, converging on a government building to try to glimpse history. It wasn't possible to approach the door of City Hall because of the thick mass of humanity in front. The couples applying for marriage licenses were in a queue leading from the City Hall door down the steps and along the walkway up to them. As they finished filling out forms and passed them up and into the building, the crowd roared with approval. A few hundred soon-to-be-married couples had the most mundane aspect of their relationships cheered by legions of fans. Imagine everyone in your neighborhood clogging the streets around the DMV to cheer on your learner's permit.

The party atmosphere was reinforced not by what the city provided, a whole mess of cops and a wedding cake inside the building that was unseen by most, but by what the spectators brought to mark the occasion. Clouds of bubbles rose from the thickness of the crowd, but what I assumed to be a bubble machine was in fact 10 or 20 people scattered around with their own soap bubble bottles. Baked goods were circulating; not enough for everyone, of course, but if you were lucky there were doughnuts, cupcakes and I even got a homemade sugar cookie. A small ragtime band provided music, but the crowd was so large that only those closest could hear more than background tuba. The crowd broke into "Chapel of Love" at least three times that I counted, and once tried "This Land Is Your Land," with mixed results. Literal "dancing in the street" is a party must, and this was accomplished by a troupe of Morris dancers from Canada. The connection between Morris dancing (ancient English folk dancing) and gay marriage eludes me still. A Cantabrigian wearing his bike helmet remembered to bring his pennywhistle and provided accompaniment.

Absent from the celebration was much in the way of dissent. Early on there was a group of a half-dozen protesters behind a metal barricade and a phalanx of police in body armor, but they were overwhelmed in number and spirit. Their placards were easy to read and colorful, but expressed sentiments that even Mitt Romney would probably like to distance himself from. "God Hates Fags," "Thank God for AIDS" and inexplicably, "Thank God for 9/11." They all seemed to come from a group called "God Hates America (dot com)," and one doubts their impact, beyond entertainment value. As one reveler pouted, "Because you're judgmental assholes, you don't get doughnuts!"

At midnight there was a countdown, and an explosive cheer. Somewhat suddenly, there were hundreds more people coming down the sidewalks, either expecting that the party was to start at 12, or just leaving the bars at that time. The crowd swelled in number and intensity, until at about 20 past midnight when they began to disperse. The armored cops marched away together--their shift was over? Or maybe they decided en masse that there would be no riot. Everyone drifted off alone, in groups or, in some cases, soon-to-be-legally married couples--all of us, with "Chapel of Love" ringing in our heads, having been witnesses to history.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 27th, 2015 12:58 am (UTC)
This is just wonderful. A nice thing to read and reflect on at the end of a truly wonderful day.

Judgmental assholes don't get doughnuts!
Jun. 27th, 2015 03:08 am (UTC)
some days i don't mind living here at all :) :) :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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