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Access to Marriage for Same-Sex Couples: History and Context

On May 17, 2004, pursuant to the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to sanction same-sex marriages. Cheering crowds serenaded newly married couples while President Bush called again for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The battle over same-sex marriage continues to play out in our courthouses, legislatures, and voting booths. Seattle University Law Library has assembled this Web site to provide information about the legal activity swirling around us in this historic time.

Andersen v. Sims
Plaintiffs in Andersen v. Sims, one of two cases currently challenging Washington's statute prohibiting same-sex marriage.


Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health
Ellen Wade and Maureen Brodoff, plaintiffs in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, are married at Newton City Hall in Massachusetts, May 17, 2004.

San Francisco City Hall
San Francisco City Hall, February 16, 2004. Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples wait for their turn to marry. Photo © San Francisco Chronicle.


The SU Law Library would like to thank:

  • Northwest Women’s Law Center
  • The San Francisco Chronicle
  • The Northwest Lesbian and Gay History Museum Project