(One of the posts I wrote on my Swell 24.7 blog in my previous life as a gift store owner in the busy tourist town of Provincetown on Cape Cod; posts that are grouped here under the category What Else Is Swell?, and are generally about life in Provincetown, life as a retailer, our fabulous dog Jack who sat outside the store for well over a decade, and other random things that grabbed me at the time.)
Today is the 7th anniversary of the Goodrich decision going into effect and same sex marriages becoming legal in Massachusetts, making it the first state to grant gay couples that right. As you can imagine in Provincetown it was cause for a big old whoop de do - we love to celebrate anything good here but really that has to be one of the best.
I spent the day volunteering at Town Hall where I think around 50 or 60 of us helped Town Clerk Doug Johnstone process the huge number of couples that showed up to apply for marriage licenses. By the time we opened up for business there were lines out to the street of would be grooms & grooms and brides & brides. The streets were full of media vans and a huge crowd of supporters had gathered; gay, straight, old, young, male, female, tourists, locals, people, dogs (yes, that's Jack in that picture, pre-gray). It was the place to be that day and I reckon practically everyone in Provincetown stopped by at some point, to witness history.
This is me with my very best friends John and Rick as they waited outside Town Hall to apply for a license.
And this is a picture in the Advocate Magazine review of 2004 of a window display I did in the store we owned then.
Inside Town Hall the Judge Welsh Room had been converted into a registration area that could accommodate about 15 couples at once, each helped by a volunteer who would process their application. My job was to keep the couples out of the room until a volunteer was available, so I spent much of the day stopping couples and asking them to wait 5 or 10 minutes until a table was free for them. Over and over again they would respond with something like 'We've been waiting for this for 12 years, we can wait another 5 minutes', or '17 years' or '28 years'. The longest that I heard that day was '52 years'.
Fifty two years these two guys had been together, more than half a century, and now, finally, they were allowed to get married.
Oh, I can tell you it was quite the day in Provincetown that day.
When the couples exited Town Hall they paused at the top of the steps, their marriage licenses held high, and the crowd would cheer each and every one of them. The sense of jubilation and euphoria was mixed with far more tears of joy than the average marital occasion. The couples were crying, the volunteers were crying, the crowd was crying, I even saw a TV news reporter wipe away what may have been a tear or two after interviewing a young male couple from Alabama who had driven all night to be first in line.
In all 152 couples applied for marriage licenses that first day, an astounding number when you consider that in 2003 there were just 19 weddings here, in the entire year. It was truly a wonderful day. Something I will never forget being part of. And as the dominoes fall, slowly but surely, and state by state America starts to do the right thing, I'll always remember with pride that I was in Provincetown on May 17th 2004 when Massachusetts led the way.
Happy anniversary everyone.