JP activists featured in same-sex marriage exhibits

May 9, 2014
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May 17 marks the 10th anniversary of legal same-sex marriages in Massachusetts and the United States—an achievement rooted in a lawsuit brought by seven couples, three of whom lived in Jamaica Plain.

Those activists and other local couples are featured in two photo exhibits commemorating the anniversary at the Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE). Four of the JP activists also will appear at a May 20 BCAE forum discussing their historic experiences.

One of the photo exhibits, “The Hard-Won Fight: America’s First Legal Same-Sex Marriage,” by Marilyn Humphries and Susan Symonds, looks back in time to 2003 and 2004. That is when the lawsuit Goodridge v. Department of Public Health—named for JP plaintiffs Julie and Hillary Goodridge—challenged and beat the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. The exhibit includes documentary photos of them as well as the other JP plaintiffs: David Wilson and Robert Compton, and Michael Horgan and Edward Balmelli.

The other exhibit, “Marriage Equality/10th Anniversary Portraits,” features Joel Benjamin’s modern-day portraits of those JPers and many others who married in Massachusetts on May 17, 2004, the first day marriage licenses were legally available to same-sex couples. Another JP couple featured is Robyn Ochs, a nationally known bisexual rights activist, and Peg Preble, a well-regarded local electrician.

The May 20 forum, “A Public Conversation: 10 Years of Gay Marriage,” will feature Wilson and Compton; Julie Goodridge and Hillary Goodridge; and former state Supreme Judicial Court Justice John Greaney, who was among the court majority that ruled the state’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. The forum will be moderated by Jared Bowen, host of WGBH-TV’s “Open Studio.”

The exhibits are free and run through June. The forum runs 6:30-8 p.m. on May 20 and has a $10 admission fee. The BCAE is at 122 Arlington St. in Bay Village. For more information, see bcae.org.

This portrait of JP couple Peg Preble (left) and Robyn Ochs, who married on the first day of legal same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, is part of Joel Benjamin’s exhibit “Marriage Equality/10th Anniversary Portraits.” (Photo by Joel Benjamin)

This portrait of JP couple Peg Preble (left) and Robyn Ochs, who married on the first day of legal same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, is part of Joel Benjamin’s exhibit “Marriage Equality/10th Anniversary Portraits.” (Photo by Joel Benjamin)