TV & Radio
After 2 years, same-sex marriage icons split up
Were plaintiffs in landmark case
By Michael Levenson, Boston Globe Staff | July 21, 2006
They told the world that their relationship was like any other and that's why they should be allowed to marry. Now, friends say, they are showing once again that they are just like any other couple: Two years after getting married, Julie and Hillary Goodridge, lead plaintiffs in the state's landmark gay marriage case, are splitting.
Mary Breslauer, a spokeswoman for the couple, confirmed the separation last night. She said the couple are focused now on trying to do what is best for their daughter, Annie, 10.
``Julie and Hillary Goodridge are amicably living apart," Breslauer said in a telephone interview. ``As always their number one priority is raising their daughter, and like the other plaintiff couples in this case, they made an enormous contribution toward equal marriage. But they are no longer in the public eye, and request that their privacy be respected."
Breslauer said they have not filed for divorce. She would not comment on their plans and offered no other details.
Supporters of gay marriage had cast them as the face of their cause: happily together for two decades, financially stable, loving parents, and in 2004, able to legally wed. Julie Goodridge, 49, is president of NorthStar Asset Management, an investment advisory firm, and Hillary, 50, is program director for the Unitarian Universalist Funding Program.
``I just think this really doesn't say anything," Breslaeur said yesterday when asked by a reporter about the significance of the separation. ``Our families, like other families, can face tough times, with many making it through those moments, but some not."
Since gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts in May 2004, about 7,300 same - sex couples have obtained licenses, according to a Globe survey earlier this year. There have been about 45 divorces; the number of separations has not been reported.
``Unfortunately, lesbian and gay couples break up just as heterosexual couples," said Joyce Kauffman, a Cambridge lawyer who specializes in gay and lesbian family law. ``It's a fact of life. There are stresses and strains on all of us. And sometimes relationships can't beat that stress. It happens to gay people just as well straight people."
The separation was first reported yesterday by Bay Windows, a gay and lesbian newspaper based in Boston.
Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, a conservative public policy group that is trying to get an amendment on the 2008 ballot that would repeal same-sex marriage rights in the state, said he did not believe the couple's separation would become an issue in the campaign.
``It's certainly not something we're going to make an issue out of," he said. ``We are opposed to homosexual marriage because we are concerned about the impact on children. So our thoughts and prayers go out to their little child, a little girl named Annie -- 10 years old, I believe. And this is just bringing more grief upon her life, I'm sure."
The Goodridges met 21 years ago in a class at Harvard that focused on divesting from South Africa. An intense courtship followed. Long before gay marriage became legal, they said they had considered themselves committed partners.
About a dozen years ago, they bought a century-old Victorian on a quiet street in Jamaica Plain; a decade ago, when Annie was born, they took the same last name. Five years ago, they and six other couples joined with a gay rights group, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, in filing a lawsuit seeking the right to marry in Massachusetts. Three years ago, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in their favor, vaulting Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health into history by making Massachusetts the first state in the country to recognize gay marriage.
Gay marriage opponents had long argued that legalizing same - sex marriage would break down a centuries - old institution. But the Goodridges disputed that in frequent public appearances.
``It's impossible for me to understand how Julie and I being married contributes to the breakdown of anything," Hillary Goodridge said in an interview two months after the ruling. ``It contributes to our economic and social well-being, it certainly contributes to the strength of our family and our enduring love for each other."
On May 17, 2004, when gay marriage became officially legal, they marched into Boston City Hall, mobbed by news media and guarded by police, and became one of the first couples in the state to apply for a marriage license.
Later that day, the Rev. William G. Sinkford, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, officiated at their wedding at the church's building on Beacon Street. The couple wore matching white pantsuits. Friends threw confetti in a rainbow of colors. Annie served as ring-bearer and flower girl. And jubilant friends sang: ``Here come the brides, so gay with pride. Long may you be, legally free. Finally hitched by a 4-3 decree."
Images of the couple leaving the wedding, showered in confetti, became part of the iconography of gay marriage, reproduced in newspapers and on television shows across the globe.
And yesterday, news of the split shook many who knew them.
``I'm sad," said Mary L. Bonauto, who was the lead lawyer in the case.
``There are now thousands of couples who are married in Massachusetts . . . so I continue to feel like we owe them a huge debt."
Same-sex marriage pioneers separate
Thursday, July 20, 2006
The lesbian couple whose lawsuit led to legal same-sex marriage in Massachusetts have announced they have separated.
"Julie and Hillary Goodridge are amicably living apart," Mary Breslauer, a local political consultant, said Thursday night on their behalf. Breslauer declined to comment on how long they had been separated or whether the couple planned to divorce.
The Goodridges were among seven gay couples whose lawsuit helped thrust Massachusetts into the center of a nationwide debate on gay marriage. The state's Supreme Judicial Court issued its narrow 4-3 ruling in November 2003 in their favor — saying gays and lesbians had a right under the state constitution to wed.
The Goodridges were married May 17, 2004, the first day same-sex marriages became legal under the court ruling, by a Unitarian Universalist minister. Their daughter, Annie, now 10, served as ring-bearer and flower girl.
Now, Breslauer said, for Annie's sake, the Goodridges want privacy.
The child figured prominently in the Goodridges' case. When Julie Goodridge gave birth by cesarean section, there were complications. Hillary Goodridge, at the time having no legal relationship with mother or child, said she was barred several times from seeing her daughter and partner.
"Even though their number one priority was their daughter," Breslauer said, "marriage makes her also their legal obligation. Their daughter is more protected because they are married."
Julie Goodridge declined to comment, saying Breslauer was the family's acting spokeswoman. Hillary Goodridge did not return a telephone message left at a business listing Thursday night.
"The plaintiff couple in this case are real people with real lives. They're not immune from life's ups and downs," Breslauer said. "Certainly over the course of time there will be same sex couples that separate just as happens in other marriages."
Massachusetts same-sex marriage pioneers split up
Fri Jul 21, 11:25 AM ET
The lesbian couple whose landmark lawsuit helped Massachusetts become the only state in America where same-sex couples can marry legally have split up, a spokeswoman said on Friday.
Julie and Hillary Goodridge and six other gay and lesbian couples sued Massachusetts for the right to marry and won when the state's highest court ruled narrowly for them in 2003.
Their suit helped spark a nationwide debate on gay marriage.
The women "are amicably living apart," Mary Breslauer, a spokeswoman for the couple said. "As always their number one priority is raising their daughter, and like the other plaintiff couples in this case, they made an enormous contribution toward equal marriage. But they are no longer in the public eye, and request that their privacy be respected."
They have not filed for divorce.
Julie and Hillary Goodridge married on May 17, 2004, the first day same-sex couples were allowed to wed, in a festive ceremony attended by dozens of journalists.
Their daughter, Annie, accompanied the women down the aisle serving as ring bearer and flower girl while guests hummed "Here Come the Brides."
News of their split upset many who had supported their quest for same-sex marriage. "We are very sad for them," said Carisa Cunningham, a spokeswoman for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
Two states -- Connecticut and Vermont -- have legalized same-sex civil unions. California, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., offer gay and lesbian couples some legal rights as partners.
The debate over gay marriage recently has heated up again in Massachusetts after the state's Supreme Judicial Court last week ruled that voters can decide whether to ban same-sex unions.
If enough lawmakers in the state's legislature approve the measure, it will be put on the 2008 ballot for a popular vote.
Same-sex split for same-sex marriage pioneers
Fri Jul 21, 4:04 PM ET
Two lesbians who led the fight for same-sex marriage in Massachusetts are splitting up two years after they became one of the first gay couples to legally exchange vows.
Julie and Hillary Goodridge, lead plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit that forced Massachusetts to recognize same-sex marriages, have separated but not filed for divorced, Mary Breslauer, a spokeswoman for the couple, told the Boston Globe on Friday.
Breslauer said the two women were focused on trying to do what is best for their 10-year-old daughter, Annie.
Carisa Cunningham, a spokeswoman for the gay rights legal group that represented the Goodridges, said she was saddened by the news.
"We're sad for them and feel that their priority, as it always has been, is their daughter," Cunningham told AFP.
"We respect their desire for privacy right now and we respect everything they've done for the community," she added.
In 2004, Massachusetts became the first US state to permit same-sex marriage after its high court ruled that preventing such unions violated the state constitution.
Same-sex marriage advocates estimate that thousands of gay couples have since tied the knot in the state.