Following a 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage across all 50 states, Boston-area residents celebrated Friday night at the Massachusetts State House at a gathering co-hosted by various organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.
Those in attendance waved small flags featuring rainbow colors and the equality symbol. Many brought their partners and children, cheering in celebration of the occasion.
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of several leaders who spoke on the State House steps, wore a rainbow feather scarf and commended the state of Massachusetts for starting a revolution.
“We started it here and it spread across this nation,” Warren said. “Eleven years ago, we brought equality to this country. This is a moment of celebration and of love … a moment in which we say we understand equal means equal all across this country. I look at this way: eleven years ago Massachusetts, today U.S.A., and tomorrow the whole world.”
Massachusetts was the first state to recognize same-sex marriages in 2004.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh expressed support for the Supreme Court decision and called it a “victory for democracy, for family, for community and for love.”
“This decision marks a milestone on our nation’s journey to become a more perfect union,” he said in a Friday statement. “I honor Jim Obergefell and all the plaintiffs and advocates who fought not only for their own rights but for the rights of all Americans to marry the person they love and enjoy equal protection under the law.”
Rev. Irene Monroe spoke to the crowd about how every committed relationship deserves the right for public recognition and legal protection and reminded those gathered that the Supreme Court decision does not completely end inequality.
“After today’s landmark decision, [groups] are working on a 50 state plan to pass religion freedom restoration acts to legalize discrimination against LGBTQ people and trying to roll back the progress we’re working on,” she said. “We’ve already seen in states like Louisiana, North Carolina and Michigan to name a few.”
Several Boston-area residents expressed varying views about the impact the Supreme Court decision will have on the nation.
Sandra Musique, 38, a representative from the Boston Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, said she came to the celebration to show solidarity for the gay community and recognize the effects of the decision.
“In Massachusetts, it’s hard to see an instant difference, but the fact that I can go anywhere and be married? That’s cool,” she said. “But I am more concerned about people who were in places like Ohio or people in states where it’s been banned like Colorado. They can now live their lives the way they see fit without interference from bigots.”
Renate Pyhel, 57, of Cambridge, said she is proud to celebrate the gains so far for human rights, but also apprehensive about the future.
“I tremble with trepidation that there will be challenges to it [the decision], but it will endure,” she said. “They [those against gay rights] will try to whittle away using the pretense of religious freedoms. There have been cases like the Hobby Lobby where corporations have maintained their latitude at certain matters is allowed by their presumed religious freedoms.”
Ariel Valdes, 24, of Lynn, said she is excited for the future generation to come.
“It’s going to affect the [LGBT] community positively,” she said. “Many youth will see the support that marriage [has made]. It’s such a happy day for many people.”