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The decision, he wrote, was “nothing less than a tectonic shift, a fundamental realignment of the landscape, possibly the biggest lesbian and gay rights legal victory ever.”Wolfson pestered his bosses to let him get more involved in the case, and they relented, allowing him to join Foley as co-counsel. In a result that astonished the world, they won: The judge, Kevin Chang, concluded that the state failed to prove that the public interest was served by denying marriage to same-sex couples..(No marriage licenses were issued as the state supreme court considered the state’s appeal.) In September 1996, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Defense of Marriage Act, a law defining marriage as between a man and woman for purposes of federal law, and President Bill Clinton signed it.On May 18, 1970, Jack Baker and Michael Mc Connell walked into a courthouse in Minneapolis, paid , and applied for a marriage license.

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Obviously, he told them, marriage was for people of the opposite sex; it was silly to think otherwise. He and Mc Connell, a librarian, had met at a Halloween party in Oklahoma in 1966, shortly after Baker was pushed out of the Air Force for his sexuality.

From the beginning, the men were committed to one another.

“At one point, I got a really bad ear infection, and I didn’t have insurance,” said Baehr, a slender blonde who now lives in Montana. “I’m living a life where I was always discriminated against, always a second-class citizen.

“Genora had insurance, so I called the gay community center to see if there was a way for me to be put on her insurance.”“My whole life flashed in front of me,” recalled Dancel, who has a heart-shaped brown face and glossy brown-black hair. Dancel worked two jobs to support her family members, who were religious and tradition-minded and did not know she was gay. To me, this was where I got to work for something I believed in—I was in love, and I wanted to get married.” Dancel came out to her family on the local news.

The first time their audacious idea had not been laughed out of court.

Wolfson and others believed a national triumph might be near at hand.The idea struck even Baker as odd at first, but he promised to find a way and decided to go to law school to figure it out.When the clerk rejected Baker and Mc Connell’s application, they sued in state court.After a clerk refused to give them marriage licenses, the couples hired a straight local attorney, Dan Foley, to file a lawsuit against the state.(Lambda allowed Wolfson, the New York attorney who wanted to take the case, only to file a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the lawsuit.) When the court dismissed their claim, they appealed to the Hawaii Supreme Court.“It’s a virtuous cycle,” Andrew Sullivan, the author and blogger whose 1989 essay on gay marriage for The New Republic gave the idea political currency, told me. And the more normal we seem, the more human we seem, the more our equality seems obviously important.” Some gay activists harbor a certain amount of nostalgia for the days when their movement was seen as radical, deviant, extreme.

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