Celebrating Freedom to Marry Anniversaries in PA, OR and MA

This week marks big anniversaries for the freedom to marry in three states: Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Massachusetts. These states made huge strides in the marriage movement, and helped bring us to where we are today, with the United States Supreme Court preparing to deliver a national resolution on the issue later this summer.

On Sunday, May 17, we celebrated the 11th anniversary of marriage for same-sex couples in Massachusetts. On November 18, 2003, a judge ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in the case Goodridge v. Department of Public Health. The case was brought by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, or GLAD, on April 11, 2001, filed in state court. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of seven same-sex couples who wanted to get married in Massachusetts.

In March of 2002, a hearing was held in this case in State Court, resulting in a ruling from State Judge Thomas Connolly that upheld the marriage ban in the state. However, the plaintiffs refused to give up, and appealed this ruling to the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, where history was made. After oral arguments, led by Mary Bonauto, who also argued before the United States Supreme Court on the question of the freedom to marry last month, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that Massachusetts may not "deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry."

On Tuesday, May 19, we celebrate the first anniversary of the freedom to marry in Oregon. On May 19, 2014, Oregon became the nineteenth jurisdiction with the freedom to marry for same-sex couples when a federal judge struck down an anti-marriage constitutional amendment in the state that restricted marriage to different-sex couples. The decision took effect immediately, and same-sex couples began marrying just minutes after the ruling. The ruling was in the case Geiger v. Kitzhaber, which was filed by private lawyers on October 15, 2013, on behalf of two same-sex couples.

The ruling on May 19 took effect immediately, and same-sex couples began getting married that day. Read more about the ruling here.

On Wednesday, May 20, we celebrate the first anniversary of marriage in another state, Pennsylvania. In 2014, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in the case Whitewood v. Wolf. The lawsuit was filed in the 3rd Circuit on July 9, 2013, by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and volunteer private counsel. Almost immediately, Pennsylvania's Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, announced that she had no intention of defending the marriage ban, staying firmly on the right side of history.

There was no trial in this case, and Federal Judge John E. Jones III ruled in favor of the freedom to marry on May 20. As same-sex couples immediately began getting married, the Governor of Pennsylvania announced that he had no plans to appeal the ruling, cementing the ruling throughout the state. Read more about how couples celebrated the first day of marriages here.

Freedom to Marry congratulates the loving, committed same-sex couples in Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Massachusetts who are celebrating the enormous steps forward that their states took!