New book documents Massachusetts gay marriage victory

On August 30, beginning at 6:30 p.m., Carpe Librum Booksellers, 5113A Kingston Pike in Knoxville, will host a media presentation and author reading and signing of Courting Equality: A Documentary of America’s First Legal Same-Sex Marriages.

Massachusetts, the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, reiterated its support on June 14, when the legislature soundly defeated a proposed amendment to the constitution banning same-sex marriage.

Courting Equality: A Documentary History of America’s First Legal Same-Sex Marriages, released by Beacon Press on May 17, provides readers a front-row seat to this successful battle for gay marriage. Through storytelling and more than 100 powerful photographs, Patricia A. Gozemba, Karen Kahn and Marilyn Humphries chronicle the history of America’s latest civil rights struggle, beginning with early efforts by LGBT activists to secure family and parenting rights through the celebrations and protests that followed the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s decision in Goodridge vs. the Department of Public Health. 

“My hope is that the photographs in this book will help others understand what went on in Massachusetts, how so many people, straight and LGBT alike, fought for an issue which conferred dignity as well as the benefits of marriage on the gay and lesbian community,” writes Humphries in Courting Equality’s Photographer’s Preface. “I believe that when others look at the faces of these families and the people who worked so hard in this struggle they will see the same compelling combination of hope and dignity that I do and understand our commonality and responsibility to one another.”

About the authors:

Patricia A. Gozemba, a former professor of English and Women’s Studies, is the coauthor of Pockets of Hope: How Students and Teachers Change the World. She is also a founding member of The History Project, which has been documenting LGBT Boston since 1980.

The former editor of Sojourner: The Women’s Forum, Karen Kahn also edited Frontline Feminism: Essays from Sojourner’s First Twenty Years. Gozemba and Kahn got married in September 2005; they live in Salem, Massachusetts.

Marilyn Humphries is an independent photojournalist whose work over the past 25 years has appeared in numerous publications including: New York Times, The Progressive, Bay Windows, Gay Community News, and the Boston Phoenix. She lives in Beverly, Massachusetts.

What others are saying:

"Courting Equality is a very important book on several levels. First, it chronicles the events that led up to same sex marriage in Massachusetts, a historic event in our country’s move toward making the wonderful principles of the Constitution applicable to all of our citizens. Second, it shows how political support in the elected Legislature grew rapidly as the reality of allowing same-sex couples to love each other demolished the prejudices that prevented same-sex marriage previously. Finally, it reinforces the point—which was no surprise to those of us fighting for equal treatment for all people—that same-sex marriage has been an entirely positive thing for thousands of men and women in Massachusetts, and has had zero negative consequences at all. Too often, political literature focuses on the bad news, Courting Equality tells some very good news very well."

U.S. Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts

“Courting Equality offers timely and vivid testimony to the power of commitment. Gozemba and Kahn take great care in tracing the complex legal and legislative processes that resulted in the first legal same-sex weddings. These fascinating behind-the-scenes stories are valuable reminders that the profound historic events surrounding the Goodridge case were played out on an intimate, human scale, in the lives of real families. Marilyn Humphries’ photographs are a gift to us all. They provide moving and eloquent documentation of each stage in the struggle to end discrimination in the Massachusetts marriage statutes. Courting Equality bears witness to the determination, the love, and, ultimately, the jubilation of thousands of ordinary people who believed in an extraordinary dream.”

— Rev. William G. Sinkford, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

“Courting Equality is a remarkable chronicle of exactly how social change happens. Marilyn Humphries’ vivid photographic documentation of the fight for same-sex marriage hardly needs any elaboration, but Kahn’s and Gozemba’s accompanying legal history is riveting. Words and pictures together create a moving, human portrait of representative democracy at work.”

— Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home and Dykes to Watch Out For

“What stands out in this masterful and nuanced collection of photographs–and the politically astute accompanying text–are the individual efforts over many years that led to the collective triumph for same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.”

— The Advocate

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