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Supreme Court Ruling Celebrated In State Where Gay Marriage Began


In Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage has been legal for more than a decade, officials said today’s Supreme Court ruling validates beliefs long-held by gay rights activists that are now part of mainstream opinion. 

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who is the nation’s first openly gay attorney general, said it was a “moving moment” Friday morning when she got word of the Supreme Court decision during a staff meeting.

"So many people have fought so long and so hard to see this happen," Healey said as her voice cracked with emotion.  " To see colleagues  who have been personally affected by gay marriage bans, it was just a great wonderful poignant moment."

Healey, who became attorney general in January, filed a brief with the Supreme Court in the marriage equality case on behalf of Massachusetts, 15 other states and the District of Columbia. She said the argument her office made to the Supreme Court was inspired in large part by a number of testimonials from gay and lesbian couples and their families across Massachusetts.

"They changed minds and they changed hearts. They were the voices of equality, they were the voice of fairness, and they made today happen," said Healey.

Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in Massachusetts since 2004. Julie Goodrich, who was one of the plaintiffs who sued in Massachusetts to win the right to marry, also hailed the national victory.

 The case for marriage equality was argued in front of the Supreme Court last spring by Mary Bonauto, project director of Boston-based Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD).  Vickie Henry of GLAD called the high court’s ruling “a blockbuster.”

Massachusetts State Senate President Stan Rosenberg of Amherst, who is openly gay, said the Supreme Court ruling is a case of the law catching up with public opinion.

" When this debate began, the public here in Massachusetts was quite divided and confused. Now about 87 percent of the people in polls here in Massachusetts believe we did the right thing. Now this will have to permeate states that are where we were ten years ago and hopefully they will see this does not harm society, but benefits society as a whole, " said Rosenberg.

Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker, who has a brother who is gay, supports same-sex marriage – a position that puts at odds with the national Republican party. He said in a statement the issue of marriage equality is “personal” for him.  He said he was pleased that every American would now “have equal protection under the law and the right to marry the person they choose.”

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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