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Busy Day of Gay Marriages in Massachusetts


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.


I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Robert Siegel, reporting today from Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Group of People: (In unison) ...three, two, one. Whoo!


SIEGEL: Thousands joyously counted down as the ornate clock in the tower of the Cambridge City Hall, running five minutes fast, struck midnight. In this state, on this day, America turned a page in the history of the family.

Unidentified Man #1: You're married.

Unidentified Woman #1: We're married.

Unidentified Woman #2: We're married. We're married.


Unidentified Woman #1: Oh, my God, Sarah.

SIEGEL: Women married women and men married men. And because of a decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the gay and lesbian couples who wed today did so not just symbolically and not just hopeful that their vows will be respected by others; they did so with the weight of state law on their side.

The first day of legalized same-sex marriage in the United States occasioned much celebration. And while there is much consternation as well about this historic step, and much opposition from political and religious leaders, actual protests here were rare. In this half-hour of our program, some thoughts on where the national debate over same-sex marriage goes from here, and the story of one couple who took advantage of this opportunity to get married as soon as they legally could. First, a roundup of today's events in Massachusetts from NPR's Tovia Smith.

TOVIA SMITH reporting:

It was with very ordinary words that couples across Massachusetts today did the extraordinary.

Mr. DAVID WILSON: Rob, I commit to love you until death do us part.

Mr. ROB COMPTON: David, I commit to love you until death do us part.

SMITH: Wearing classic black tuxes and matching red-striped ties, Rob Compton and Dave Wilson fought back tears in front of Wilson's 90-year-old father, their kids and grandkids. They are one of seven couples whose lawsuit led to Massachusetts' high court decision making gay marriage possible. Three years ago, they had a symbolic commitment ceremony at the Arlington Street Church in Boston; today, they were back for the real deal.

Unidentified Woman #3: And now by the power vested in me by the commonwealth of Massachusetts...


Unidentified Woman #3: ...I hereby pronounce you legally married. Amen.


SMITH: Compton and Wilson got court permission to skip the usual three-day waiting period and married today. Hundreds of others felt the same urgency. Some like Sarah Gopland(ph) and Jane Erickson(ph) are planning ceremonies for later this summer, but with a legal challenge to gay marriage in federal court and a constitutional ban pending in the Legislature, they want to officially tie the knot as soon as possible.

Unidentified Woman #4: We're still afraid that it'll be taken away, so we want to, like, make sure that we get our license and make the wedding official before anything could possibly happen.

Group of People: (Praying in unison) Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

SMITH: Outside Boston City Hall, just a few protesters gathered to mark what Reverend Patrick Mahoney from Washington, DC, calls a tragic day.

Reverend PATRICK MAHONEY: I'm grieving. I mean, I could almost cry over this. It's gut-wrenching, it's heartbreaking because we're seeing our society crumble around us. If we as a culture can redefine what marriage is, then what is secure?

SMITH: Massachusetts Republican Governor Mitt Romney, a staunch opponent of gay marriage, today issued a short statement underscoring his hope that voters will ultimately ban gay marriage. Romney had warned out-of-staters not to come to Massachusetts, saying he didn't want to become the Las Vegas for gay marriage. And he's enforcing a nearly century-old law barring couples from marrying here if they can't legally marry at home. But out-of-state couples came anyway, hoping to find a friendly clerk.

Unidentified Man #2: Are you going to be party A or party B, so I can start on this one?

SMITH: Adrenalin pumping, New Yorkers Edward DiBones(ph) and Vincent Manascalco(ph) filled out their forms and nervously passed them to a clerk in Somerville.

Unidentified Man #2: I can't believe we're actually doing it.

Unidentified Man #3: Like, we want to get it finished and get our license. Like, we're all waiting for, like, Romney to bust in, like--and just come over and take it all away from us.

SMITH: But the governor didn't, and DiBones and Manascalco got through the first of many hurdles on their way to a legal marriage. New York's attorney general has said that state would have to recognize same-sex marriages made in Massachusetts, but that's far from certain. And officials in Connecticut and Rhode Island today sent mixed signals, suggesting the matter would have to be decided by the courts. But many out-of-staters who traveled to Boston today, like Davina Kotulski from San Francisco, were hopeful.

Ms. DAVINA KOTULSKI: I think the tide has changed. It's like the Berlin Wall coming down. It's coming down. This is going to be permanent. So get used--you know, we're here, we're married, get used to it. Yeah.

SMITH: Kotulski married her partner in San Francisco, but her marriage is still being reviewed by the courts there and she says she's not celebrating yet the way couples who marry in Massachusetts now can. Tovia Smith, NPR News, Boston.

Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Prior to his retirement, Robert Siegel was the senior host of NPR's award-winning evening newsmagazine All Things Considered. With 40 years of experience working in radio news, Siegel hosted the country's most-listened-to, afternoon-drive-time news radio program and reported on stories and happenings all over the globe, and reported from a variety of locations across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia. He signed off in his final broadcast of All Things Considered on January 5, 2018.
Tovia Smith is an award-winning NPR National Correspondent based in Boston, who's spent more than three decades covering news around New England and beyond.