Friday, July 21, 2006

Hillary and Julie Goodridge, the namesake couple in the landmark lawsuit that introduced same-sex “marriage” in Massachusetts two years ago, have separated.

The Goodridges are “amicably living apart,” said Mary Breslauer, a friend and communications specialist who has been acting as the couple’s spokeswoman.

The couple, who have a 10-year-old daughter, are seeking to maintain their privacy as they sort things out, Ms. Breslauer said.

“It’s very sad,” she said, adding that the couple has been receiving a tremendous amount of support from friends and family.

The Goodridges’ breakup was first reported Wednesday in Bay Windows, New England’s major newspaper for homosexuals. The paper said a breakup had been rumored for months, but the women had worked to time release of the news in the best way to protect their daughter.

Ms. Breslauer yesterday declined to discuss why the Goodridges have broken up but said that, despite their nationally covered marriage in 2004, “they are real people with real lives.”

“Our marriages are not unlike everyone else’s marriages, which is that they are both precious and fragile,” Ms. Breslauer added. “I think the significant difference with our marriages is that ours are constantly under attack.”

Shannon Minter, spokesman for the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco, said that while the breakup was “very sad news,” “same-sex couples are no more immune to the possibility of divorce than heterosexual couples.”

Being in the public eye was probably “particularly difficult” for the Goodridges, “but they are still conducting themselves with integrity and dignity,” he said.

It is also good, he added, that they have the protections of wedlock “as now they and their daughter will have all of the security and clear rules that married couples benefit from when they do divorce.”

Conservative observers expressed concern for the family, especially the daughter, noting that research points to instability in many homosexual relationships.

“Of course, we don’t take any pleasure in the sadness of any individual or couple, and I don’t believe one couple’s experience necessarily proves anything,” said Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council.

But there is research indicating that homosexual relationships are less likely to be monogamous or lifelong than heterosexual relationships, he said.

“I think it demonstrates again why we are so concerned for children in inherently unstable relationships,” said Jan LaRue of Concerned Women for America. Recent court decisions have recognized that homosexual unions “are not the equivalent of heterosexual marriage” and “it’s better for children to be in stable, heterosexual marriage with a mom and a dad,” she said.

The Goodridges and six other homosexual couples sued Massachusetts for the right to “marry” in 2001. They won when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled 4-3 in their favor in November 2003.

The court stayed its ruling until May 17, 2004, to allow the state to prepare for the unprecedented nuptials. The Goodridges, who had been together about 17 years at the time, were among the first same-sex “marriages” that day.

Julie Goodridge, 49, is president of an investment advisory firm, and Hillary Goodridge, 50, is program director for a Unitarian Universalist Association funding program.

Ms. Breslauer said they have not filed to end their union.

A 2006 Boston Globe survey said 7,300 same-sex couples have “married” and 45 have formally ended their union.

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