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20 years ago: Massachusetts became first state to legalize same-sex marriage

Same-sex marriage supporters hug outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, Taiwan, on May 17, 2019, after Taiwan's legislature has passed a law allowing same-sex marriage in a first for Asia. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — On May 17, 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage when the first of a handful of same-sex couples were married following a decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

The court ruled in November 2003 that the state constitution guaranteed the right to marry for same-sex couples.

On May 17, 2004, Cambridge made history as the first city nationwide to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. At Cambridge City Hall, Marcia Kadish and Tanya McCloskey married, according to Boston television station WCVB-TV.

The landmark ruling emphasized marriage as a fundamental social institution. The majority opinion stated that denying same-sex couples the right to marry violated the Massachusetts Constitution’s principles of dignity and equality for all people.

Following Massachusetts, 36 states and Washington, D.C., legalized same-sex marriage after the 2003 decision.

The Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling made unconstitutional same-sex marriage bans in the remaining states.