Our History Of Freedom To Marry
This weekend I received the last email from an organization that I have followed and been a part of for a very long time.
Within living memory, gay people in America were a despised, oppressed minority. Same-sex couples’ love was scorned, summarily rejected by enormous swaths of the country, feared, deemed “immoral” and “pathological,” and made illegal. The notion of same-sex couples lawfully marrying was unthinkable – and early pioneers who bravely stepped forward to claim the freedom to marry were met with derision and venom.
From the dawn of the modern LGBT movement, in the immediate aftermath of Stonewall in 1969, same-sex couples in several states filed legal challenges seeking the freedom to marry. Courts of Appeals in Washington and Kentucky dismissed cases, with the Kentucky judge writing, “What they propose is not a marriage.” In Colorado an American was forced to choose between his country and the love of his life, an Australian man, when their legal request for a spousal visa was denied by the Immigration & Naturalization Service which literally wrote, on government letterhead: “You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.” And in 1972, a Minnesota couple took their attempt to marry all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which summarily turned down the case “for want of a substantial federal question.”