Seven Years of Marriage Equality in Massachusetts

According to MassEquality’s e-newsletter, Governor Deval Patrick has declared that today (May 17) is Marriage Equality Day in Massachusetts. The date marks the seventh anniversary of the first legal same-sex marriages in the Commonwealth, which followed the Supreme Judicial Court’s 2003 ruling in Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health that gender-based restrictions on marriage violated state constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

Will New York State be next? The long-dormant libertarian wing of the Republican Party may make all the difference when the Assembly-passed bill for equal marriage rights comes up for a Senate vote. “Donors to GOP Are Backing Gay Marriage Push,” the NY Times wrote on Saturday:

…The donors represent some of New York’s wealthiest and most politically active figures and include Paul E. Singer, a hedge fund manager and top-tier Republican donor, as well as two other financiers, Steven A. Cohen and Clifford S. Asness.

At the same time, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a billionaire businessman and philanthropist who has been a major contributor to Senate Republicans in New York, plans a significant push for same-sex marriage: giving at least $100,000 of his own money, hosting a fund-raiser at an Upper East Side town house, traveling to Albany to lobby lawmakers and giving a speech on the issue….

The newly recruited donors argue that permitting same-sex marriage is consistent with conservative principles of personal liberty and small government.

“I’m a pretty straight-down-the-line small-government guy,” said Mr. Asness, who described himself as a libertarian who favored less government intrusion in both markets and personal affairs. Mr. Asness, a frequent Republican donor, has praised Tea Party activists on his blog and last year attended a conference of right-leaning donors held by Charles and David Koch, among the leading conservative philanthropists in the nation.

“This is an issue of basic freedom,” Mr. Asness said.

Some of those involved have made what might be termed the pro-business argument for same-sex marriage, arguing that the legalization of same-sex marriage would help keep New York economically competitive.

One of the donors, Daniel S. Loeb, who has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates for federal office in the last two years, said he hoped to make clear to Republicans that same-sex marriage had a broad coalition of support.

“I think it is important in particular for Republicans to know this is a bipartisan issue,” Mr. Loeb said. “If they’re Republican, they will not be abandoned by the party for supporting this. On the contrary, I think they will find that there is a whole new world of people who will support them on an ongoing basis if they support this cause.”

Mr. Cohen, who runs SAC Capital Advisers and has become increasingly active in Republican fund-raising, described his views simply: “We believe in social justice for all Americans.”

The involvement of Mr. Singer is the most striking, given his devotion to conservative candidates and philanthropy: He is chairman of the Manhattan Institute, a right-leaning research group, and one of the most generous Republican donors in the country. But he also has a personal stake in the issue: he has a gay son who married his partner in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal.

In other news, today is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. I lack the technical skills to turn this blog template pink (and besides, doesn’t that leave out butch gals and FTMs?). Visit the IDAHO website to take action on several initiatives, including a petition calling awareness to the harms of “reparative therapy” in Latin American and Caribbean countries.

Closer to home, if you live in Massachusetts, you can submit written testimony to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary in support of the transgender civil rights bill, which has been languishing in the state legislature for nearly four years. Visit the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition website for instructions. Testimony must be sent before May 23.

Our state is asymmetrical when it comes to protections for sexual minorities. Though we’ve got some of the strongest protections for gay and lesbian couples in the country, there are NO state laws against employment discrimination based on gender identity or expression. This category is broader than just transpeople, important as they are. It means that you could be fired for failing to conform to gender stereotypes. That’s why trans rights are a feminist issue, a gay rights issue, and an issue for anyone who cares about challenging the categories that keep us from expressing our full humanity.

2 comments on “Seven Years of Marriage Equality in Massachusetts

  1. momochii says:

    Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!

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