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Same-sex marriage supporters celebrate 9th anniversary in Boston Public Garden

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  May 18, 2013 08:56 PM

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Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com

Ellen Wade, at center-right in turquoise shirt, spoke at the gathering as her wife Maureen Brodoff, in striped cardigan, and other same-sex marriage supporters listened. At left are Jo Ann Whitehead and Bette Jo Green, married in 2004. At right are Michael Kelley and Ricardo Rodriguez, married in 2006.

About three dozen supporters of same-sex marriage gathered in the Boston Public Garden recently to mark the ninth anniversary of its legalization in Massachusetts.

The Commonwealth issued the first marriage licenses for same-sex couples on May 17, 2004, following a landmark decision by the Supreme Judicial Court the previous November that found that same-sex couples had the right to marry.

Present at the celebration were Ellen Wade and Maureen Brodoff, a Newton couple that participated as plaintiffs in that case, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, and wed on the first day it was legal.

“We thought our commitment was as good a model of a committed, loving relationship as you’d likely find in any community, straight or gay,” said Brodoff, 61, of their decision to participate in the Goodrich case.

“It’s just thrilling every year when this time comes around, not just as an anniversary for our marriage but what a spectacular day it was for Massachusetts and all its citizens,” she said.

Wade, 64, said she’s not bothered if same-sex marriage has become so commonplace in Massachusetts that residents don’t always stop to appreciate the historic struggle that made it possible.

“It’s great if people take it for granted,” said Wade. “I think there’s a place for appreciating the enormous accomplishment of getting this right, but ultimately that’s what you want.”

Wade and Brodoff recently celebrated Mother’s Day together, having dinner out with their 24-year-old daughter, Kate Wade-Brodoff. They said the one downside to having two mothers is that the adult child has two people deserving special treatment on the holiday.

Massachusetts was the first state in the country to legally recognize marriages between gay couples and remained the only state to do so until Connecticut became the second in 2008.

Just two days before Thursday’s celebration, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed a bill legalizing gay marriage in that state, making it the 12th where same-sex couples can marry. It is also legal in Washington, D.C.

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino had been scheduled to speak at the event, but was unable to attend. Instead, Jullieanne Doherty, who serves as the mayor’s liaison to Jamaica Plain as well as liaison to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, read a statement from Menino.

In the statement, Menino referred to a pair of cases currently under review by the US Supreme Court: one concerns the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which bars married gay couples from receiving federal benefits, while the other reviews the legality of Proposition 8, the referendum that outlawed same-sex marriage in California.

“It has the chance — and I would say the obligation — to end the discrimination still faced by millions of gay and lesbian couples who simply want to marry the person they love,” Menino said of the court in his statement.

The mayor went on to say that he’d like to invite the justices of the court to Boston to see what is different now. “All that has changed is that Massachusetts now treats all loving couples and their families equally under the law,” he said.

Michael Kelley and Ricardo Rodriguez, both 42, were married seven years ago at a park in the South End. The couple said that they initially had some anxiety about having such a public ceremony, fearing some people might see it and react negatively.

They need not have worried.

“Residents started running out of their houses to scream and yell and throw flowers,” Kelley said.

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @jeremycfox.
Follow Back Bay on Twitter: @YourBackBay.

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Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com

About three dozen supporters of same-sex marriage gathered in the Boston Public Garden.

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