Narrator: On May 17th, 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize marriage for same-sex couples, and weddings started that same day.
Now, from StoryCorps, we meet one of the first couples to be married.
David Wilson was a plaintiff in the lawsuit that led to marriage equality in Massachusetts. Listeners may remember him from a story in 2010… talking about losing his first partner to a heart attack.
David Wilson (DW): When I got to the hospital, they weren’t going to give me any information. They called his family in Vermont and said, ’Can you give permission for us to talk to David?’ And his 75-year old mom said, ’Of course, they’re partners.’ So, they came out and they said that he was dead on arrival.
Narrator: A few years later, David Wilson met Rob Compton… and they became one of the first legally married same-sex couples in the U-S.
Ron Compton (RC): I was new to Boston. I just came from Michigan where I was fired when I came out at work. And so I was looking to meet people and I stumbled across you.
DW: I think you slipped me a business card if I remember correctly.
RC: [Laughs] Well, I’m not sure who slipped who the card but you started talking about your family and your kids having been married myself for over 20 years and having kids, that’s actually one of the things that really attracted me.
DW: At that point we began to think about well maybe we’ll go out on a date.
And the first year that we were living together, you woke up at three in the morning and had pretty excruciating pain. And we drove off to the hospital. And that was the very same hospital that my former partner was brought to. But I thought three years later I would be treated at least as your partner which I wasn’t. That was the beginning for us of thinking about how do we get legal protections for each other.
RC: Back then most people were not supporting civil unions, let alone marriage. We had one death threat. And the day of the wedding, we had to actually have police all around us and they had snipers up on the roof trying to make sure nothing happened. But that day Arlington Street Church was filled to the brim.
DW: We had our two grandsons who were 4 and 2 walk down the aisle ahead of us. And I do remember our minister saying, By the power vested in me…
ARCHIVAL: “By the power vested in me by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts….”
RC: And then we had to pause while the church erupted.
DW: People clapping and…
DW: …banging their feet.
RC:. And then she said…
ARCHIVAL: “I hereby pronounce you legally married.”
RC: And that’s when we realized, that day wasn’t about us. This really was for thousands and thousands of people.
DW: For me as we approach the 15th anniversary, I… I have no concerns now about introducing you as my husband. No one’s going to challenge that, no one’s going to ask me for a marriage license — which right after we got married we started carrying our marriage license everywhere we went. Here we are 15 years later and I don’t even know where it is.