TV & Radio
The Times July 22, 2006
First US gay couple to marry have broken up
From James Bone in New York
THE lesbian couple who pioneered gay marriage in America have split up, saying that their marital troubles show that they are no different from heterosexual partners.
Julie and Hillary Goodridge led the legal battle that forced Massachusetts to become the first state in the US to allow same-sex marriage. The two, who met 21 years ago at a Harvard University course on disinvestment in South Africa, became the public face of a loving, financially stable, committed same-sex couple.
As lead plaintiffs in the landmark case, they were featured in People magazine. Julie, 49, is president of an investment advisory firm, and Hillary, 50, is a grants manager for the Unitarian Universalist Association. The pair went to court after a hospital refused to allow Hillary to see Julie when she suffered complications during the birth of their daughter, now 10.
They wed in Boston on May 17, 2004, the first day of legal gay marriage in America. “Next to the birth of our daughter, Annie, this is the happiest day of our lives,” Julie said. Two years later, however, the couple have broken up. “Julie and Hillary Goodridge are amicably living apart,” Mary Breslauer, a spokeswoman, said.
A survey undertaken by the Boston Globe indicated that about 7,300 same-sex couples have obtained licences since gay marriage was legalised in Massachusetts, and about 45 have divorced. The news of the break-up comes as gay rights activists have suffered a series of setbacks in their campaign for same-sex marriage.
Gay 'marriage' first couple splits up in Massachusetts
By Cheryl Wetzstein
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Published July 22, 2006
Hillary and Julie Goodridge, the namesake couple in the landmark lawsuit that introduced same-sex "marriage" in Massachusetts two years ago, have separated.
The Goodridges are "amicably living apart," said Mary Breslauer, a friend and communications specialist who has been acting as the couple's spokeswoman.
The couple, who have a 10-year-old daughter, are seeking to maintain their privacy as they sort things out, Ms. Breslauer said.
"It's very sad," she said, adding that the couple has been receiving a tremendous amount of support from friends and family.
The Goodridges' breakup was first reported Wednesday in Bay Windows, New England's major newspaper for homosexuals. The paper said a breakup had been rumored for months, but the women had worked to time release of the news in the best way to protect their daughter.
Ms. Breslauer yesterday declined to discuss why the Goodridges have broken up but said that, despite their nationally covered marriage in 2004, "they are real people with real lives."
"Our marriages are not unlike everyone else's marriages, which is that they are both precious and fragile," Ms. Breslauer added. "I think the significant difference with our marriages is that ours are constantly under attack."
Shannon Minter, spokesman for the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco, said that while the breakup was "very sad news," "same-sex couples are no more immune to the possibility of divorce than heterosexual couples."
Being in the public eye was probably "particularly difficult" for the Goodridges, "but they are still conducting themselves with integrity and dignity," he said.
It is also good, he added, that they have the protections of wedlock "as now they and their daughter will have all of the security and clear rules that married couples benefit from when they do divorce."
Conservative observers expressed concern for the family, especially the daughter, noting that research points to instability in many homosexual relationships.
"Of course, we don't take any pleasure in the sadness of any individual or couple, and I don't believe one couple's experience necessarily proves anything," said Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council.
But there is research indicating that homosexual relationships are less likely to be monogamous or lifelong than heterosexual relationships, he said.
"I think it demonstrates again why we are so concerned for children in inherently unstable relationships," said Jan LaRue of Concerned Women for America. Recent court decisions have recognized that homosexual unions "are not the equivalent of heterosexual marriage" and "it's better for children to be in stable, heterosexual marriage with a mom and a dad," she said.
The Goodridges and six other homosexual couples sued Massachusetts for the right to "marry" in 2001. They won when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled 4-3 in their favor in November 2003.
The court stayed its ruling until May 17, 2004, to allow the state to prepare for the unprecedented nuptials. The Goodridges, who had been together about 17 years at the time, were among the first same-sex "marriages" that day.
Julie Goodridge, 49, is president of an investment advisory firm, and Hillary Goodridge, 50, is program director for a Unitarian Universalist Association funding program.
Ms. Breslauer said they have not filed to end their union.
A 2006 Boston Globe survey said 7,300 same-sex couples have "married" and 45 have formally ended their union.
July 22, 2006
Same-sex marriage plaintiffs separate
Women won right to wed in Massachusetts; split after 2-year marriage is called amicable
By Katie Zezima
New York Times
BOSTON -- The lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit that made same-sex marriage legal in Massachusetts have separated, their spokeswoman said Friday.
The couple, Julie and Hillary Goodridge, separated after nearly two decades together, including just over two years of marriage, the spokeswoman, Mary Breslauer, said.
"They are amicably living apart," Breslauer said. "Plaintiff couples, even those who have that kind of spotlight, have real lives, and they're not immune from the ups and downs and stresses that any relationship faces."
The couple and their daughter, Annie, 10, became spokeswomen of sorts for same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, making their lives public in an effort to show they were like any other couple who wanted to marry.
The women were married May 17, 2004, the day same-sex marriage became legal in the state.
Breslauer said neither woman had filed for divorce. Bay Windows, a weekly gay and lesbian newspaper, first reported the news.
The Goodridges and six other couples filed the lawsuit, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, in 2001 after being denied marriage licenses. The case made its way to the state's highest court, which ruled in November 2003 that the Massachusetts Constitution guaranteed same-sex couples the right to marry. The first same-sex marriages took place six months later.
More than 8,000 same-sex couples had married in Massachusetts as of May, said Carisa Cunningham, a spokeswoman for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, which argued the case. A Boston Globe survey this year said about 45 of those couples had divorced.
The Relationship Is Over for a Pair of Gay Pioneers
The two women at the center of Massachusetts' landmark marriage ruling have separated.
By Elizabeth Mehren, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
July 22, 2006
BOSTON — The couple who lent their name to the lawsuit that legalized same-sex marriage in Massachusetts have separated, a family spokeswoman confirmed Friday.
Julie Goodridge, 49, and Hillary Goodridge, 50, were married on May 17, 2004, the first day that same-sex couples were permitted to wed in Massachusetts under the terms of the court case Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health.
The landmark 4-3 decision by the state's Supreme Judicial Court made Massachusetts the first state to extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples.
No other state has followed suit, although Connecticut has legalized same-sex civil unions, which already were permitted in Vermont when the Goodridge decision came down.
On the heels of the Goodridge decision, 20 states have passed constitutional amendments to classify marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and at least 19 states including Massachusetts are exploring such constitutional amendments.
The Goodridges, who selected a common surname after perusing their families' histories, declined to comment Friday on the split. They have a 10-year-old daughter, Annie.
Family spokeswoman Mary Breslauer said Friday: "Julie and Hillary Goodridge are amicably living apart. As always, their No. 1 priority is raising their daughter.
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 would not speculate whether the pressures associated with the legal battle had contributed to the Goodridges' breakup. Seven same-sex couples acted as plaintiffs in the Massachusetts lawsuit.
"I think this is much more about recognizing that plaintiff couples, even those that are at the center of the storm, are simply at the end real people with real lives," Breslauer said.
"Relationships and marriages are both precious and vulnerable, all at the same time, and theirs is no different."
The Goodridges have not filed for divorce, Breslauer said.
More than 8,000 same-sex couples have traded vows in Massachusetts since the Goodridges walked down the aisle of a Unitarian Universalist church as wedding guests merrily sang "Here Come the Brides." About 45 gay and lesbian couples have divorced, according to state figures.
Among activists on both sides of the marriage issue, reaction to the Goodridges' split was muted.
Said communications director Lisa Barstow of the Massachusetts Family Institute, which is heading the move to end same-sex marriage in the state: "Our thoughts and prayers are with Annie, the Goodridges' 10-year-old daughter, and that's really all we choose to say about this. This is a personal matter, and I think we need to treat it with that kind of dignity."
Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Washington, also declined to discuss what he called "a personal thing between the Goodridges," except to say he did not think their split would hamper the broader same-sex marriage effort.
"It will have no impact on the struggle for marriage equality," he said. "This is a long-term struggle, and we're going to have advances and setbacks along the way."
At Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders — the Boston-based nonprofit that brought the historic lawsuit on behalf of the seven same-sex couples, Executive Director Lee Swislow said: "We're just very sad…. We care so much about Hillary and Julie. They were so brave and so powerful, and they made a difference."