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What the Thirteenth Anniversary of Marriage Equality in Massachusetts Means to Me

By Nicholas DiSabatino


Wedding of Nicholas DiSabatino and his husband Josh
Wedding of Nicholas DiSabatino (right) and his husband Josh (left).

In 2004, I was recently out at my private Catholic high school in Canton, Ohio. Bush would soon be re-elected, and my crush on one Steven Michael Buffington, a gorgeous basketball player with an unfortunate fondness for Ann Coulter’s books, had been publicly revealed to my entire class. I was in hell.

But on May 17, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same sex marriage, and for one brief moment, I felt hopeful. Evan Wolfson’s Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People’s Right to Marry had become my Bible, and I refused to shut up about it or the prospect of one day living in a country where every LGBTQ person could love freely and honestly with legal rights and protections.

I became fixated on Massachusetts. I collected every news clipping I could find about Goodridge v. Department of Public Health and placed them in my scrapbook along with photos of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the X-Men, and the man I assumed would be my future husband, Clive Owen. Here was a place I could feel welcome. Here was a place I could call home.

But thirteen years ago, the idea of same-sex marriage was still so alien to people. Even then Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry wouldn’t respond to questions about it in public for fear of upsetting potential voters. Other states would follow eventually, but for me, it felt like forever.

In 2008, when I was applying for graduate schools, I kept coming back to Emerson College because of their program in Publishing & Writing. But one other reason was simple: marriage. I knew Massachusetts would welcome me as I was and that I could find someone there with whom I could build a life.

In 2010, I met that man, and on May 29, 2015, about a month before the Supreme Court declared marriage equality the law of the land, I found myself legally married after years of fearing that day would never come.

I’m so proud to consider myself now a lifelong resident of Massachusetts, a state that has always been a leader for progressive change on various issues for our country, and continues to be so today.


About the Author 

Nicholas DiSabatino graduated from Kent State University and has an MA in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College. He joined Beacon in 2012.