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The Long Road to Marriage Equality

The Long Road to Marriage Equality
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On Tuesday, the Democrats adopted a plank in their platform calling for the legalization of same-sex marriage. This came on the heels of President Barack Obama’s announcement earlier this summer that he supported same-sex marriage. While we’re still a long way from full national recognition of same-sex marriage, the event still represented a milestone in the quest for equal rights for the LGBT community.

Polling trendlines make it almost inevitable that same-sex marriage will be legalized sooner or later; generally speaking, younger voters are overwhelmingly in favor of allowing two adults to marry, and there are more younger voters every day. It’s easy to forget the long and difficult road that we’ve traveled to get to the cusp of marriage equality.

Early Activism Yields Little

In 1970, less than a year after the Stonewall Riots, gay rights activists Jack Baker and Michael McConnell applied for a marriage license in Hennepin County, the Minnesota county anchored by Minneapolis. At the time, no state laws prohibited same-sex marriage, but the license was still denied on the grounds that common law assumed marriage was between a man and a woman. The pair appealed the case to the Supreme Court, but lost.

The case did spark action — against marriage equality. In 1973, Maryland became the first of many states to outlaw same-sex marriage. Nevertheless, gay rights activists continued to seek licenses, even receiving some in Boulder, C0lo., and Phoenix, Ariz. — although all the licenses were eventually invalidated.

Movement Internationally, Stagnation in America

The late 1970s and 1980s saw little movement on the domestic front. LGBT activism in the 1980s was focused on combating the AIDS epidemic and simply trying to hold ground on basic rights in the face of the Reagan administration. There was little energy to push for marriage at the same time.

That didn’t mean that there were no steps toward marriage equality, though. In 1979, the Netherlands passed a law giving limited rights to same-sex couples. Ten years later, Denmark became the first nation to legalize civil unions for same-sex partners. It wasn’t quite full equality, but it was a step forward.

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43 comments

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8:43AM PDT on Sep 13, 2012

Equal Rights are for EVERYBODY, no matter their age, sex, religion, sexual preference, race, etc.

4:39PM PDT on Sep 12, 2012

It shouldn't matter if you are gay, straight, transgendered, by or what ever. If you want to marry you should have that right in ALL 50 States.

11:58PM PDT on Sep 11, 2012

"NOT ONE SINGLE REASON [to oppose Marrieage Equality] that is Rational, *Sectarian*, Logical, Reasonable, Scientific or Ethical...."

Oops, I hope people realize I meant SECULAR, not "sectarian"! SECULAR, Rational Reasons...


4:12PM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

3:48PM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

My State of Washington, besides Maryland and Rhode Island - recognizes Same-sex Marriages performed in other States.
Certain Native American tribes in the Northwest, now recognize Same-sex marriage for their people - as they had it centuries ago!!! And other tribes are considering it...

The BEST WAY to deal with the Trolls - is just to present the FACTS - because the Trolls can have NO ANSWER to the FACTS.
So you SHOW THE TROLLS UP FOR THE LAUGHABLE IGNORAMUSES THAT THEY ARE.
As real KNOW-NOTHINGS. As Idiots WITHOUT A SINGLE LEG TO STAND ON.
Without a single FACT, or ARGUMENT, or anything but DARK AGES SUPERSTITION inside their pointed tiny heads!
No COMPASSION, of course, and no PATRIOTISM - just DIVISIVENESS. Trying to turn Gay people and straight people against each other! They CAN'T DENY THAT!
But, mainly, again, just merely EXPOSING THEIR BOTTOMLESS IGNORANCE AND ILLITERACY, LACK OF EDUCATION, LACK OF CURIOSITY AND OF FACTUAL KNOWLEDGE, for the WHOLE WORLD to see!!!
They ought to feel HUMILIATED, EMBARRASSED, by the way they are DISPLAYING THEMSELVES in all their naked "glory", to all the rest of us here!
But, of course, they are TOO OBTUSE EVEN TO HAVE A SENSE OF THAT.....

3:36PM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

THANK YOU, Cynthia, for this interesting history.
It is interesting, how the support for Marriage Equality has gradually and steadily grown thru the years; and it will undoubtedly continue this steep upward curve!
Not only have people realized that the "sky has not fallen" in places where Marriage Equality has been recognized; it is due to MORE AND MORE PEOPLE BRAVELY COMING OUT AS GAY - from Celebrities, to your next-door-neighbor or your family member. As more & more & more people have come out of their respective closets, people realize that "gay people" are NOT this horrible, awful "Other"; but, often a beloved or admired or wonderfully talented individual. Once Gay people are recognized as what they are, as PEOPLE - not "monsters" - then the rest has to logically, inevitably follow. The ought to enjoy the Constitutional "pursuit of Happiness" just like OTHER real People. The Law should recognize NO DISTINCTION.

There is NOT ONE SINGLE REASON to oppose Same-sex Marriage, that does NOT come, in its foundation, from SUPERSTITIOUS AND NONSENSICAL RELIGIOUS DOGMAS.
There is NOT ONE SINGLE REASON that is Rational, Sectarian, Logical, Reasonable, Scientific or Ethical. NOT ONE REASON!!!!! Not ONE that can be defended on any OTHER ground than the Dogmatic Religious ones.

The State of Washington, besides Maryland and Rhode Island - recognizes Same-sex Marriages performed in other States.
Certain Native American tribes in the Northwest, now recognize Same-sex mar

1:32PM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

Mari G....I do respect your opinion, I am not saying you have to think the same way I do. We all have the right to think and say what we believe in...

9:22AM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

OOPs I meant vast not mast...typing too fast for my own good

9:05AM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

@Steve R...and you think it is only liberals that are gay...where have you been hiding...I say that all homophobes just haven't come out yet.

8:50AM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

Marriage is a legal contract between two individuals. The so called ceremony in the church isn't legally binding until that contract is registered with the government. A marriage licence is required by all...there is no rider to that licence that say that it must be preformed in a church and to be sanctioned by the church.

They just want the same legal rights that we heterosexuals have, the right to be legally responsible for their chosen partner, to be able to care for them when God forbid they are in the hospital, to be able to add them on to their healthcare program, to be able to receive spousal benefits...etc.etc.etc...They pay into these programs just like everyone else, so why should they be denied the same rights as everyone else just because of their chosen partner. Time to grow up everyone, change is tough, get over it!

@Elaine A...you are no longer in the vast majority, as we in the mast majority believe that it is only right and just...your hatred must be very tiring.

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