poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Monday, May 24, 2004

Seismic Shift A Personal Reflection
by Sue Hyde - National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
NGLTF Communications Department

Greetings from the great state of Massachusetts, home of same-sex legally married couples from the Tip of the Cape to the Top of the Berkshires! As of May 24, 2004, one week from M-Day May 17, over 1700 same-sex couples have obtained marriage licenses in Massachusetts. Despite all of the thunder and roar from Governor Mitt Romney, about 98% of those couples reside in our state.

The past seven days have been exhilarating, exhausting, exciting and extremely extraordinary. I keep pinching myself so that I know I'm not dreaming. Here in Massachusetts, we are witnessing the unfolding of a historic and seismic cultural shift. Every queer person I talk to agrees: our world changed on May 17 and the evidence of it keeps rolling in the door. But, let me set the stage for the seismic cultural shift by taking you to Cambridge, Massachusetts.

For 20 years, LGBT people in the city of Cambridge have worked steadily to create a community that is welcoming to people who are sexual and gender minorities. In a series of local ordinances and school department policies, the city has embraced its LGBT residents and visitors. The ordinances and policies include: a 1984 local ordinance to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, a 1991 ordinance to establish domestic partner status for city workers and residents so that employee benefits would be available to unmarried partners of employees, a 1996 amendment to the non-discrimination law to include gender expression, the establishment of a liaison position in our school department to LGBT families, the establishment of the nation's second high school-based support group for LGBT students and allies, and the appointment of a liaison in the city's police department.

When the decision in Goodridge was announced in November 2003, a Cambridge City Councilor immediately took steps to bypass the 180-day waiting period for the issuance of marriage licenses to s-s couples. She proposed that the city of Cambridge would commence issuing licenses as soon as our City Clerk could prepare to do so. But under advice from a number of sources, the City Councilor withdrew her proposal and settled for issuance of licenses as soon as is legally permissible, aligning the city with May 17, 2004 as M-Day in Cambridge and other communities across the state.


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