Patrick Touts Mass. Gay Marriage Law

By Phillip Martin

Sept. 21, 2011

Robyn Ochs of Boston, right, hugs Kirsten Steinbach of Westborough, Mass., both gay marriage supporters, at the Massachusetts Statehouse in Boston in Sept. 2005, after the Massachusetts Legislature overwhelmingly rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that sought to ban gay marriage but legalize civil unions. (AP)

BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick on Wednesday offered a spirited defense of Massachusetts’ same-sex marriage law. The governor was addressing a meeting of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, a progressive legal organization that he helped form in 2001.

Tuesday night’s tenth anniversary ACS event in the Great Hall of the Supreme Judicial Court was held in honor of retired chief justice Margaret Marshall. On the same day, as gay-rights activists nationwide celebrated the end of the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" military policy, Gov. Patrick praised Justice Marshall, who authored the Massachusetts’ land mark gay marriage decision in the Goodrich case. That ruling sparked massive protests at the time and prompted dozens of states to enact laws prohibiting same sex marriage.

"To chief justice Margie Marshall, thank you for your firm and steady leadership of the judicial branch and most especially for these purposes tonight, the courage you showed in your decision in the Goodrich case," Patrick said. "I know for that decision you have been called a lot of things. I call you hero."

Just blocks from where the Governor was speaking, gay rights activists were holding a rally in front of the state house to draw attention to a host of concerns. Ann Coleman of Get Equal said she was cheered by the governor’s support for same Sex marriage and the end of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," but said that gays were still a long way from achieving full equality, even in Massachusetts.

"For a generation of people like us who are out here it goes beyond marriage because we’re trying to fight for non-discrimination being able to get jobs, being able to have housing, being able to go to school," Coleman said. "The Defense Of Marriage Act at a federal level allows discrimination to take place in this country and I think it’s time for us to say enough."

Coleman said now with the right to enlist in the military and marry in Massachusetts come the next steps in the long, drawn-out campaign for gay rights, which she describes as efforts to extend those rights in every aspect of American life.

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