Offering a three-piece assemblage explaining or seeking support for same-sex equality with two items referring to marriage equality in Massachusetts, the first state to achieve victory. The grouping contains an auction program from a 2004 Valentine Gala, hosted by the grassroots Freedom to Marry Coalition. The auction produced $53,000 for the battle. A second item is a typed letter of support signed by English playwright, novelist and film director Clive Barker. It was part of the auction items. Finally, a letter from Bill Clinton as president, signed by auto pen, explaining his desire to secure open enlistment in the military, which had a ban on “homosexuals in our Nation’s military.” This was a precursor in the journey to equality and cost Clinton, in the early days of his presidency, a great deal of political capital as members of Congress and others balked at the idea.
The Valentine Gala was hosted annually by the Freedom to Marry Coalition as its major means of fundraising for the grassroots effort. The 33-page program lists donations provided by many generous people, including two guitars signed by musical artist Melissa Etheridge, items sent by actor Ed Asner, actress Elizabeth Taylor, folk singer Joan Baez and author Ann Rice. Several hosting businesses donated wedding receptions and many artists supported the effort.
In his letter to the group, Barker stated, “I am happy to help with your efforts to raise money for civil marriage rights for same-sex couples and have, therefore, sent the enclosed signed photo.” [Not present with this grouping.] In Bill Clinton’s letter, dated July 14, 1993, he states, “I believe people should be judged by their conduct not by their status. Stricter rules of conduct on sexual behavior for all military personnel are at the heart of a sensible solution. My belief is that we don’t have a person to waste. I am working with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the military services, the Congress and others concerned to design a policy which will ensure equality and fairness, while preserving the unit and preparedness of our military.” Unfortunately, the next step in this long journey was “Don’t ask. Don’t tell,” which was a compromise position.
In Massachusetts, the state Supreme Court declared that same sex couples have a constitutional right to marry on November 18, 2003. The court gave the state legislature six months to comply with its decision. The case was known as Goodrich versus the state Department of Health. A number of state officials, including then-Gov. Mitt Romney supported a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. At the time, Romney stated, “We must provide basic civil rights and appropriate benefits to nontraditional couples, but marriage is a special institution that should be reserved for a man and a woman.” In writing the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision, then Chief Justice Margaret Marshall wrote, “Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support. It brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial and social benefits. In return, it imposes weighty legal, financial and social obligations.”
Finally, on June 15, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a case known as Obergefell v Hodges, ruled that same sex couples have a Constitutional right to marry, thus ending the battle. The decision was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Light wear to the program. Else excellent
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