By Whitney Teal
The polls and pundits have spoken: 2015 was the year of marriage equality. From Greenland to Finland, the United States of America to the Republic of Ireland, the tides turned in major ways this year, and people across the LGBTQ spectrum realized lifelong dreams.
Associated Press polls showed marriage equality and related stories were the most captivating of the year across the U.S. And, really, who would disagree? LGBTQ-identified people were more visible than ever in media and politics this year, with more representation for people whose identities are often invisible, like trans people and folks who identify as bisexual.
Even in a year of big moments, some stood out more than others. Here are the year’s biggest moments in marriage equality:
1. Marriage Equality Becomes Law in United States
Extending unprecedented marriage privilege to same-sex couples and LGBTQ-identified people in every state of the union was, quite obviously, the biggest moment in marriage equality in 2015.
On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court decided in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges that marriage is defined as a union between two people—regardless of their sex. While the entire opinion is worth a read, this paragraph from Justice Anthony Kennedy became a part of wedding history overnight:
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. It is so ordered.”
2. Ireland, Finland and Greenland Recognize Same-Sex Marriage
Marriage equality advocates covered a ton of ground this year, and won many important battles. Finland and Ireland became the 13th and 14th nations in Europe to recognize marriage equality. Finland’s victory was significant because it was the last nation in the progressive Nordic countries without marriage equality on the books. (Norway and Sweden legalized gay marriage in 2009; Denmark in 2012.) Ireland’s victory was historic in that it was the first nation to recognize marriage equality by a popular vote—not by a court decision or legislative measure.
Though Greenland is a territory of Denmark, the Danish law that allowed LGBTQ couples to marry didn’t apply to this country. According to Pew Research Center, the local legislature passed a bill to recognize marriage equality in May 2015.
3. Trans Advocate Janet Mock Weds in Hawaii
A leader among advocates for increased rights for transgender people, Janet Mock wed her sweetheart Aaron Tredwell in her native Hawaii in November. Mock, the author of The New York Times-bestselling Redefining Realness, wrote this about the experience of hosting a wedding as a trans woman:
“Though a wedding doesn’t make a marriage, being able to show up and declare our commitment in front of the people we love meant everything to us. The whole day was a statement on the transformative power of being seen for who you really are and being loved not despite your past and experiences but because of it.”
4. 96,000 Same-Sex Couples Married After SCOTUS Ruling
We think this is how you quantitatively prove a community is celebrating. Nearly 100,000 same-sex couples rushed to court houses, chapels, hotels and many other venues to declare their love for each other after gay marriage bans were lifted in June, a poll by Gallup proved.
The poll showed that couples across the U.S. were anxious to be married post-SCOTUS, regardless of whether they lived in a state where marriage equality was recognized on the state-level or not.
5. Your Gorgeous Weddings!
This was one of the biggest years yet for GayWeddings.com, and we were flooded with couples and photographers who wanted to be featured on our website. We published a ton of beautiful real weddings, all of which made the marriage equality landscape brighter by providing much-needed inspiration and guidance for LGBTQ couples everywhere.
Grab a ton of inspiration for your upcoming wedding by checking out some of the great couples we featured this year.
What was your favorite marriage equality moment this year? Tweet, Facebook or ‘Gram us and let us know! Be sure to use the hashtag #GayWeddings.
About Whitney Teal
Although I’ve spent the last decade riffing on everything from suburban politics to race in media, documenting love stories as content manager of GayWeddings.com definitely takes the cake. A proud alumna of Howard University’s journalism program, I’ve written for Parents.com, The Huffington Post, xoJane and Essence magazine. When I’m not writing, I’m debating the merits of Drake, obsessing over frozen yogurt or plotting my next international adventure. I want to feature you on GayWeddings.com! Always feel free to drop me a line at community [at] gayweddings.com to share your engagement, wedding and love stories.