On November 18, 2003 the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts released its decision in the case Goodridge v Department of Public Health, which brought marriage equality to the United States. Mary Bonauto had assembled this case and argued it before the court. She was GLAD’s first civil rights lawyer and knew what happens to a gay couple when one of them dies, and their shared home is stripped by blood relatives who are “next of kin” and therefore “heirs.” Bonauto knew why marriage was important to gay people. She had been working on civil rights cases for the gay community for ten years. One of the most powerful descriptions from this period is of Bonauto reading the court decision on November 18. There is also a photograph—a snapshot—of her reading that she—and we—had won.
This information and the picture are drawn from a new book, Winning Marriage: The Inside Story of How Same-Sex couples Took on the Politicians and Pundits—And Won, by Marc Solomon, ForeEdge, 2014, There is a Foreword by Deval Patrick, which is interesting in its own right. The print book is $20.93 and is available everywhere and the Kindle edition is $10.99. No editions in ePub for Ipads. Marc Solomon has been tilling these fields almost as long as Mary Bonauto. Governor Patrick says that “Marc led the effort to save marriage equality in the wake of the court’s decision and efforts to undo it.” Anybody who was in Boston during that time will appreciate what a central and critical role Marc Solomon played in this struggle.
I bought Solomon’s book yesterday, and when it arrived on my Kindle, I started reading it immediately. My husband, C, said a couple of hours later, when he got home from work, “I don’t know. You must be reading an interesting book. You haven’t put that thing down since I got home.” I told him what it was. I didn’t stop reading until I had finished Chapter 6, and all of the “Massachusetts” pages. It was riveting.
Winning Marriage is divided into several sections—Massachusetts, New York, California, Barack Obama, and then a final section “Courting Justice,” on the Supreme Court—so it’s clear that this book is not the whole story of marriage equality, but it does seem to be the story of the most significant bits. This book introduces us to the main characters—Mary Bonauto, Evan Wolfson are the ones Solomon dedicates the book to—and to the main events, and, most importantly, it introduces us to the way it was done. When I hear people speak of the how it was done, I think of all the people in this book, who were very very good at what they did, and who were energetic and determined and who never gave up. In other words, they fought hard. I have read only “Massachusetts” before I had to stop to pack for the weekend. But this story in Winning Marriage is inspiring and hugely informative. No where else have I been given an idea of how hard these people fought to bring us marriage equality.