Today is the 16th anniversary of marriage equality in Massachusetts. This moment that was formative to me, politically. I was 16 years old and (of course) watching the marriage equality debate at the State House on TV. I think it was televised live on the broadcast news stations, but it might have just been on public access TV.
It seems crazy to think about now, but at the time, marriage equality was wildly controversial – especially in more culturally conservative districts. So the debate was rancorous, and the atmosphere was downright toxic. I wasn’t there, but I’ve heard stories of how loud and chaotic the environment was at the State House that day.
Up to the mic on the House floor strides Kathi Reinstein, representative from Revere, with her Revere accent and attitude. She proceeds to deliver an impassioned but simple plea: why should we stand in the way of what makes other people happy? It wasn’t the most popular stand to take back home. But history proved her to be right.
This made a big impression on me as a 16 year old. It spoke to something I already felt but didn’t really know how to articulate: our fundamental equality. It also opened my eyes to the progress and change that can be made when people have the courage to roll up their sleeves and work for it.
16 years later, all the dire predictions about how family and society would be destroyed if gay marriage were legalized never came to pass. The Lord did not smite Massachusetts. He did, however, give us the World Series a few months later. Make of that what you will!