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Thursday, December 31,2009

A look back at the Aughts

By Pamela White

2004: Gay rights

We’re talking about a marriage revolution

May 20, 2004

These days, an image of two men engaged in a passionate kiss might not turn many heads, but just five years ago, it was considered highly controversial. Same-sex couples had begun to gather serious steam in their fight for equal marriage rights. Only four years earlier, Vermont had established legal same-sex unions that gave gay and lesbian couples many of the same rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples. And two months earlier, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that denying gay and lesbian couples full and equal rights to marry was unconstitutional. City officials in San Francisco and county officials in Sandoval County, N.M., began issuing marriage licenses for gay couples.

The battle lines were drawn. Boulder Weekly stepped into the fray, interviewing some of the 28 local couples who converged on the County Clerk’s office to demand marriage licenses, only to be denied on the basis of state law, which prohibits same-sex marriage. The article, “A perfect union,” gave their personal and poignant reasons for wanting to marry and outlined some of the rights they’re denied as couples because they can’t.

That edition of the paper featured one of the couples — two Boulder men — locked in a heated kiss. It rankled some readers, but others praised it, saying that gay and lesbian couples ought to feel as comfortable holding hands and kissing in public as heterosexual couples do.

Little did anyone know at the time that the cultural divide over GLBTQ rights and attempts by gay-rights activists to address the issue of gay marriage on the ballot would energize conservative, religious voters, helping Bush to win a second term in the Oval Office. One of the most provocative issues of the Aughts, gay marriage is still fiercely debated with no resolution on the horizon.

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