Commentary

May 17 was a double anniversary of civil rights battles

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) “High-poverty, majority-black and Hispanic schools were less likely to offer a full range of math and science courses than other schools, for example, and more likely to use expulsion and suspension as disciplinary tools.”

This May 17th also marked the twelfth anniversary of marriage equality in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Looking back at advances such as hate crime laws, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and  DOMA, the legalization of marriage equality, and anti-homophobic bullying becoming a national concern, the LGBTQ community have come a long way since the first Pride marches four plus decades ago. Our backs appear not to be slammed as harshly up against a brick wall like they used to be. 

I had the opportunity to write Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall, who wrote the landmark decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health the following thank you note this year in April after attending an event she was at: 

When I left for NECN (New England Cable News) on Friday I never imagined in my wildest dreams I would meet you there.  And, of all things take a group photo with you and my buddies Sue O’Connell and Scott Kearnan. WOW! And, thank you!

The closest I came to meeting you was once many tables removed from the stage you spoke from as GLAD’s 2013 Spirit of Justice Awardee.

A tsunami of thanks I send your way for authoring the Goodridge case, allowing me and so many of my LGBTQ brothers and sisters across this beautiful Commonwealth of Massachusetts to marry the person we love. 

As an African American lesbian there aren’t too many places in this country I feel protected by state laws.

The Goodridge decision bestowed upon me full citizen state rights that when same-sex marriage was legally recognized on May 17, 2004, I then began to proudly lift my voice and say, “I, too, am Massachusetts!”

This June will be the one year anniversary of Obergefell v. Hodges, the historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states. But, so, too, will be the anniversary of the Charleston, South Carolina black church massacre at “Mother” Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, which left nine worshippers dead – including its senior pastor, the beloved Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney.

Over the years I’ve learned that joy can share its space with other emotions. This May 17th both joy and sadness washed over me. 

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