Last week’s Supreme Court ruling striking down part of the bigoted Defense of Marriage Act was a landmark for LGBT rights. It was also another case of the federal government slowly catching up to civil rights leadership in Boston and especially in Jamaica Plain. It is a good time to remember some of the citizens who fought hard for rights that LGBT people here now can rely on.
Equal marriage rights in the U.S. were first won a decade ago here in Boston in a court case led by a JP couple and featuring several other JPers as plaintiffs. Local elected officials put themselves on the line to make sure same-sex marriage rights were enacted, often in the face of open hostility from core constituent groups. They included state Reps. Liz Malia and Jeffrey Sánchez, both JP residents, and the neighborhood’s former state senator, Dianne Wilkerson.
More recently, other lawsuits took on DOMA and got it ruled unconstitutional, including one with a JP couple as plaintiffs. That helped prod the Supreme Court to take up the DOMA issue with a different case.
Marriage rights are only one part of civil rights for LGBT people, and there are many battles yet to be fought and won. Not everyone is willing or able to take the heat of such vitriolic and outright dangerous battles. That is what we look to leaders for, and our neighborhood has been blessed with many civil rights heroes, both among elected officials and regular folks down the street. We thank them and stand by them in seeing the ideal of full human rights for all come to fruition.