OPINION | Barry Richard: Gay Marriage Still Right After 14 Years
Fourteen years ago today, the world was supposed to change dramatically. Nothing would ever be the same.
Seventeen years ago today, the nation's first legal same-sex marriage occurred right here in Massachusetts. Same-sex marriages have been occurring by the thousands each year since, and are now performed throughout the country thanks to a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. It's routine. Mainstream.
In 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decided that to deny gays and lesbians the right to marry violated their guarantee to equality and liberty under the law. There were efforts to put the matter before the voters in the form of an initiative petition. That effort was quashed by the legislature.
Those who opposed same-sex marriage were outraged. And some are still. Marriage, they argued was defined as a union of one man and one woman. Period. Traditional marriages would fail, as men would leave their wives to marry other men. People would engage in same-sex marriages to obtain government benefits from their spouses, throwing the entire system into collapse.
The argument was even made that if people were allowed to marry someone of the same sex, it wouldn't take long before they would demand to have more than one spouse. Or insist that they be able to legally marry their pet. For those who don't recall, I am not making any of this up. These were actual arguments against same-sex marriage.
The State House News Service says between the time Hillary and Julie Goodridge (now divorced) became the first same-sex couple to legally wed on this day 14 years ago and the end of 2016, roughly 32,469 same-sex couple were wed in Massachusetts. Not all have lasted, but then neither have all of the traditional marriages that occurred during the same period.
Whether traditional or same-sex, marriages generally result in happier and healthier people. And unless we are one of the participants, it's not likely any of our business. Society and your individual rights are in no way threatened by same-sex unions.
There are those, of course, who still do not approve of same-sex marriage. That is their right, I suppose. But as far as I can tell, the world has kept spinning since the first same-sex wedding occurred 14 years ago today, and we as a society are better for it.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.