- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

BOSTON (AP) - In Massachusetts, the first state to legalize gay marriage, Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision granting same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide drew an exuberant response from those who started the fight more than a decade ago.

“We’re hopping up and down,” said Gloria Bailey-Davies, 74, of Orleans.

She and Linda Bailey-Davies, 69, were among seven couples who filed a landmark lawsuit in Massachusetts, and they married on May 17, 2004, the first day same-sex marriage licenses were issued in the state.

“The last time Gloria burst into tears like that was when we heard the news that we won our case 11 years ago,” said Linda Bailey-Davies, as the couple celebrated with a bottle of champagne.

State officials also embraced the ruling, including Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who was the only sitting governor among more than 300 prominent Republicans who signed on to a brief in support of the plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court case.

“For me, the issue of marriage equality is personal,” said Baker, who has a brother who is gay and married.

Maura Healey, who became the nation’s first openly gay attorney general when she was sworn in to office in January, led the filing with the high court of a brief in support of gay marriage on behalf of 16 states and the District of Columbia. Before doing so, she asked same-sex couples in Massachusetts and their families to tell their stories through social media. Hundreds did, she said.

“It works for our families. It works for our communities. It works for our state,” Healey said. “The court’s decision was correct … and frankly it was about time.”

Yet Friday’s ruling was not universally applauded in Massachusetts. Cardinal Sean O’Malley, leader of Boston’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese, said he was saddened by it.

“Certainly every citizen of this land, regardless of their sexual orientation, deserves to be respected in their personal and civic life,” O’Malley said in a statement. “But enshrining same sex marriage in our constitutional system of governance has dangers that may become fully evident only over time.”

Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, said the court overstepped constitutional boundaries, creating a “profound threat” to the rights of many Americans.

Through the end of 2013, the last year full statistics were available, 25,785 same-sex couples had married in Massachusetts, representing about 7 percent of all marriages, according to a review of state records by The Associated Press.

Among them were Al Koski, 72, and Jim Fitzgerald, 64, who had been together 32 years before marrying in 2007.

Koski, a retired Social Security Administration worker, said he believed the high court’s decision would have practical effects even in states where same-sex marriage had previously been legal.

“Adoption, parents’ names on birth certificates, some discrimination problems … since it’s the law of the land, it sort of eliminates a lot of those things,” Koski said.

Gloria Bailey-Davies said she looked forward to a day when all marriage distinctions disappear.

“We won’t even use the term gay marriage anymore,” she said.


Associated Press writers Steve LeBlanc and Denise Lavoie contributed to this report.

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