In November of 2003, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, in a 4-3 decision ruled that the Commonwealth could not restrict the marriage of any two persons on the sole grounds of their being of the same sex. This decision was followed by then President of the Senate, Robert Travaglini not only upholding the spirit of the decision but also its language. Meaning that, there would be no equivalent license issued instead of one granting civil marriage as had been done in Vermont previously. With these decisions made, Massachusetts became the first State in the union to recognize and fully legalize same sex marriage. This victory for civil rights made truer the promises of the framers of our constitution, and upheld the language found in Article I of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It was altogether fitting and proper that they did this. These actions were, by the standards of their time, bold and unusual. They demonstrated not only a willingness to hear from a group of people, who had up to this point been ostracized and made into a sort of second class citizenry but also a certain measure of bravery to do not what was popular, but what was right.
We now sit fifteen years after this landmark decision wondering where this courage has gone. Where are the bold civic leaders who opt for justice over votes, who look to their hearts, not to headlines for what is right? Why has Massachusetts not carried on this noble spirit of change?
At present, though it has been criminalized in fourteen other states, the District of Columbia and over forty cities and counties, the practice of Gay Conversion Therapy, and the creation of institutions which seek to, as they put it, ‘correct’ for homosexuality, remains fully legal throughout the Commonwealth. Further, no current member of the Massachusetts General Court, nor any candidate running to fill such a seat has taken a stance against this practice.This ends now, as I fully intend to outlaw this and similar practices by the end of 2019. While I will not say that the silence of State Senators, and representatives is equal to an endorsement of the practice, I demur at the idea that any of them have truly considered putting an end to the practice for the simple reason that they do not believe it will get them elected.
There is, due to the lack of conversation surrounding this topic within the Commonwealth, a need to clarify what exactly is meant by “Gay Conversion Therapy”. It is a practice where minors, typically teenagers, are subjected to a variety of crude therapies and cruel interventions meant to change their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. While the last two are less common they are nevertheless a goal of such organizations, and an equally dangerous and, frankly, shameful purpose of them. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, has found that they are entirely ineffective in changing a person's gender or sexual identity, while instilling within those subjected to them lasting feelings of guilt, anxiety and depression from which they may never recover. Similar stances are taken by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians and a number of other similarly credible organizations.
I believe deeply in the rule of law and in the words of our constitution and it makes very clear the idea that every citizen within the commonwealth is granted an equal right in “seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.” This same language which ended the practice of slavery within the Commonwealth, and guaranteed an equal right to marriage shall now affirm an equal right to love and be loved as each of us was born to.
- Alexander Leighton Williams
The information within this statement was taken from the following sources
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, The AACAP Policy on “Conversion Therapies” (2018)
American Academy of Pediatrics, Homosexuality and Adolescence, 92 Pediatrics 631 (1993)
American College of Physicians, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health Disparities: Executive Summary of a Policy Position Paper From the American College of Physicians, Ann Intern Med. Published Online (2015)
Belluck, Pam. "SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: THE OVERVIEW; MARRIAGE BY GAYS GAINS BIG VICTORY IN MASSACHUSETTS." New York Times(New York), November 19, 2003.
HILLARY GOODRIDGE & others vs DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH & another. (November 18, 2003).
Mass. Const. Pt. 1 art. 1