Taboo and turmoil: The history of same-sex marriage in the US

Maria Ly
Staff Writer

On June 26, 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states after a decades long battle for the fight for equality and the right to marry.

The battle all started with a law student and librarian. Richard Baker and James McConnell applied for a marriage license in the state of Minnesota and ultimately were rejected, even bringing the case to the Supreme Court in the famous case Baker vs. Nelson. 

Since this case, many LGBTQ activists fought to get the right to marry as states began banning same-sex marriage with Maryland leading the way. 

Many peaceful protests were done over the years such as the mass same-sex wedding ceremony where 2,000 couples pledged their vows with another 5,000 protesters participating in the mass wedding on Oct. 10, 1987 in front of the National Museum of Natural History. 

Along with not being able to marry, many same-sex couples were also not given the right for hospital visitations and right of legal guardianship of their ill partners. In 1989, things started to change when San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed a law for unmarried couples including gay couples to file for domestic partnerships that granted rights such as hospital visitations. Many states followed suit including New York which deemed same-sex couples that have been together for ten years or more as families. 

However, the LGBTQ community’s fight for gay marriage began to face setbacks as former President Bill Clinton signed into law the Domestic of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996 that specified only heterosexual married couples could be granted federal marriage benefits. 

The LGBTQ community however, began to see the light when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage in 2010. 

Soon after, many cities and counties began to protest as they issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples. Oregon county, as a protest to the state of Missouri, banned all marriage until “the states decide who can and can not wed.” 

By 2015, 13 states had banned gay-marriage and over 20 countries had already legalized gay marriage such as the Netherlands in 2000 and Canada in 2005. 

After a long headache inducing fight for gay marriage, Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan voted in favor of same-sex marriage, legalizing it across all 50 states on June 2015 and ultimately repealing DOMA. 

Many couples celebrated in this historic moment, with many celebrities taking to Twitter to express their extreme joy and gratitude with #LoveWins. 

Former President Barack Obama tweeted, “Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else #Lovewins.”

Lesbian icon and talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres tweeted to her millions of followers, “Love won. #MarriageEquality.” 

Gay pop star, Sam Smith, blew up his twitter feed to show his excitement for the Supreme Court ruling and tweeted, “ALL 50 STATES!!!! So happy. Times are changing my friends. We have such a long way to and so…” 

Many companies also took suit to express their support with Ben and Jerry’s temporarily renaming their cookie dough ice cream “I dough, I dough.” 

Not all felt happiness and rainbows that day however, with many taking to social media to express their distaste of the Supreme Court’s decision. 

President Donald Trump, at the time, tweeted, “Once again the Bush appointed Supreme Court Justice John Roberts has let us down. Jeb pushed him hard! Remember!” 

Although the battle for gay marriage was won, we still have a long way to go as certain powers in government continue to threaten the well-being of LGBTQ individuals and rights. 

One of these government officials being Vice President Mike Pence, who believed gay marriage signaled societal collapse and “deterioration of marriage and family” and firmly believes being gay is a choice. 

Like Pence, Trump is no kind friend to the LGBTQ community either. In an interview with The Des Moines Register, President Trump stated, “I’m not in favor of gay marriage. They should not be able to marry.”

Feature photo courtesy of the New York Times.

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