Same-Sex Marriage: The Courageous Fight


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  • While today’s society has an idea that being gay is a new concept starting in the late 20th century, it can be traced in D.C. as early as the 18th century with none other than Pierre L’Enfant. Hailed as the visionary for D.C. before it even became the great city it is today, he was also known as an “affected” man (Muzzy, p. 7). While this term was used by people of the 18th century, we now know it as the present notion of homosexuality (Muzzy, p. 7). It has been rumored that L’Enfant had a relationship with Baron von Steuben, a general at Valley Forge during the American Revolution (Muzzy, p. 11).The statue of Baron von Steuben, usually found in Lafayette Park, will be temporarily dismantled to be placed in the exhibition. Notice the downward jester of his sword, pointing to the groin of his instructor – many gay historians believe that this could be an illusion to his homosexuality.
  • While Lincoln had a life-long friendship with Joshua Speed, the two have been known to share a bed on multiple times (Muzzy, p. 15). Historian of Washington D.C. gay and lesbian culture, Frank Muzzy, has even cited that Speed at one point introduced Lincoln and his future assassin John Wilkes Booth to each other (Muzzy, p. 15). While motives for Booth’s assassination of Lincoln are always speculated, could Lincoln’s homosexuality have played a factor? While this may never be proven, maybe poetry written by Lincoln holds the key. He stated: “My Suitor you never Can be / Beside your low crotch proclaims you a botch / And that never Can serve for me” (Muzzy p. 16).
  • Creator of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover found a true companion with colleague Clyde Tolson. So much so that when Hoover passed away, he left Tolson his “infamous secret files” (rumored to even contain proof of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s lesbian lover) and his entire estate (Muzzy, p. 24). Adding to this speculation is the fact that Tolson is buried in close prominently to Hoover in Arlington National Ceremony, which is normally reserved for military and famous figures in society (Muzzy, p. 24). Also, during Hoover’s private time, it has been known that he liked to dress up in women’s clothing (Muzzy, p. 24).
  • While the National Equality March was not just a Washington D.C. march for solely marriage, this topic was certainly a large part of protest. Happening soon after the historic California Prop 8 which denied same-sex marriage, protesters took their concern to the nation’s capitol in hopes of bringing to a end gay discrimination. One well-known protester in the crowd was singer Lady Gaga. A large supporter of the gay community, her selling hit “Born This Way” tells her gay listeners that they are perfect human beings with no flaws.
  • On December 18, 2009, Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the historic bill to allow gay marriage in the District of Columbia. The race to find the perfect site concluded at the last moment as the signing was held at All Souls Unitarian Church in Northwest. The location was significant as it was the church of Rev. Robert Hardies, co-founder of the D.C. Clergy United for Marriage Equality and featured in the Soulful Noise video. Fenty concluded with stating, “We've set the tone for other jurisdictions to follow in creating an open and inclusive city’ (
  • “Standing on the Side of Love” loomed over Fenty as he signed the D.C. marriage equality bill. This organization which promotes “harnessing love’s power to stop oppression” focuses on making this world a more loving place for homosexuals ( While this bill was signed on December 18th, it had to be reviewed by Congress which would take an additional few months. Although this was the case, Congress still had the authority to veto.
  • This part of my exhibition will be presented as a flip board. Visitors will be able to see photos of notable D.C. figures and be able to lift them up to see his/her stance. Present mayor Vincent Gray, a strong supporter of same-sex marriage, publicly recognized Barrack Obama’s support on Twitter stating “Bigotry should never be enshrined in our law” (The Huffington Post). Congresswoman Eleanor Norton, an long-time supporter of gay marriage, once stated that “[W]e should approach the rights of gay couples and families with the same resolution and results as we had for others who have fought their human rights in Congress and in the District” (MetroWeekly). Former mayor Marion Barry opposed gay marriage in D.C. from the start stating that there are not many gay African Americans. He stated “All hell is going to break lose. We may have a civil war” (The Washington Post).
  • After three months, gay couples were finally able to apply for marriage licenses. On a gloomy Wednesday, March 3rd, more than 100 couples lined up outside the courthouse in Judiciary Square. While on a normal day the Courthouse processes about 10 marriage licenses, on this special day about 140 were processed in the morning and afternoon alone. The District of Columbia was well on its way to beginning the marriage process, but wedding seekers had to wait another week before the first marriage was underway. An example D.C. marriage license will be on display for visitors.
  • Once couples were in line for their marriage licenses, they were each given a ticket with a number to represent the order in which they would receive them. This would come to represent the order in which couples would be married the following week. The lucky couple who received the first spot was Angelisa Young and Sinjoyla Townsend, who had been together for 12 years. Meeting in grad school, Townsend used the statement “Every sunflower needs rain to grow. Would you be my rain?” (The Washington Post). They have been together ever since that day and have received matching tattoos to reflect their love for each other.
  • Like the section of D.C. Congressmen and his/her stance on gay marriage, this portion will also be a flip board letting visitors know which churches are gay marriage friendly.
  • Although many churches in D.C. have legalized marriage within their own communities, there is no church quite like the National Cathedral that has stirred up more controversy. In January 2013, the National Cathedral released an official statement concerning this matter. “The Cathedral is called to serve as a gathering place for the nation in times of significance, but it is also rooted in its role as the most visible faith community within the Episcopal Church. … We enthusiastically affirm each person as a beloved child of God—and doing so means including the full participation of gays and lesbians in the life of this spiritual home for the nation.” Signs like the one shown above have been circulated around the District in protest of the National Cathedral.
  • During the 2012 presidential election, President Obama openly supported the gay community. As with every other presidential campaign, merchandise was selling at an all time high. In order to show their own support, the gay community made their own merchandise. These buttons, bumper stickers, and magnets were all examples of how gays showed their continuous support for Obama.
  • On Monday, March 26, and Tuesday, March 27, the Supreme Court argued the case for and against the legalization of gay marriage for every state and the repeal of DOMA. Out of the 500 seats that are present in the Supreme Court, as few as 60 go to the public. Tickets that were going to the public went given out on Monday, March 25th despite the fact that many people had been camping out five days prior. Those who decided to camp outside, braved the elements of coldness, rain, and snow. This just show their commitment to same-sex marriage – they were in a city that legalized what they believed, should not the rest of the United States also agree? Some items like lawn chairs, umbrellas, etc. will be on view in a collective pile.
  • Same-Sex Marriage: The Courageous Fight

    1. 1. Same-Sex Marriage:The Courageous FightThe Historical Societyof Washington, D.C.801 K Street, NW202.249.3955
    2. 2. Introduction:Has D.C. Always Had Gay Residents?Left: military statue ofBaron von SteubenRight: Pierre L’Enfant
    3. 3. Introduction:Has D.C. Always Had Gay Residents?
    4. 4. Introduction:Has D.C. Always Had Gay Residents?
    5. 5. By late 2009, many DC residents were ready to givemarriage rights to gays and lesbians. One largecomponent of opposition was from religion. As earlyas 1986, the Catholic Church took a stance thathomosexuality was not an evil, just their behavior isnot acceptable (Andryszewsky, p. 33). Other faiths,such as Mormonism and Islam, spoke out negativelyagainst gay marriage. On the other hand, theEpiscopal Church have actually ordained gay clergy(Andryszewskyp. 33). In the fight for gay marriage,religion and supporters would play a great role.2009: The Fight Begins
    6. 6. 2009: The Fight BeginsThe D.C. Clergy United for Marriage is a organization wherepeople of all faiths came together for one particular topic.On October 29, 2009, people celebrated the idea of marriageequality at the Asbury United Methodist Church located on11th and K Sts Northwest. Prior to this meeting, over 200religious clergy signed the Declaration of Religious Supportfor Marriage Equality bill. On this particular night Jewish,Unitarians, Baptists, and even Catholics gathered together inprayer, music, dance, and lecture to stand up for theirbeliefs.
    7. 7. 2009: The Fight Begins
    8. 8. 2009: The Fight BeginsDuring the 2009National Equality March,Lady Gaga spoke to the crowds aboutequality for all people. While she did notaddress the notion of gay marriagespecifically, the tone of this speech certainlypaved the way for talk of same sex marriagein Washington D.C.
    9. 9. 2009: The Fight Begins
    10. 10. 2009: The Fight Begins
    11. 11. 2010: Our Time Has ComeWho’s who of D.C. political figures andstance on same-sex marriageMayor Vincent GrayCongresswomanEleanor NortonFormer Mayor Marion Barry
    12. 12. 2010: Our Time Has Come
    13. 13. 2010: Our Time Has ComeMarriage Ceremony
    14. 14. 2010: Our Time Has ComeThe first couple: Married at the headquarters of the HumanRights Campaign, located on Rhode Island AvenueNorthwest, Young would wear a champagne coloredwedding dress that had a full lace skirt. It would be custommade by a friend. Townsend, on the other hand, would weara champagne colored suit. Although Washington D.C. waswas booming with same-sex marriage, not everyone was asthrilled with the new ruling. On the same day of Young andTownsend’s March 9th nuptial, the Catholic Charities of theArchdiocese of Washington announced that they werereducing health care of gay marriage couples so that theydid not provide coverage to partners.
    15. 15. 2010: Our Time Has ComeChurches ThatAccept UsLeft: National CityChristian ChurchRight:GeorgetownLutheran ChurchLeft: RiversideChurchRight: St. Mark’sEpiscopal Church
    16. 16. 2011-2013: The Journey EnsuesWith Washington D.C. making same-sex marriage legal, therest of the nation turned their eyes to the other states thathad previously outlawed the bill. Would lawmakers listenor would they simply turn their backs on the idea of same-sex marriage?Our forefathers stated in the Declaration of Independence:“All men are created equal … [T]hey are endowed by theirCreator with certain unalienable rights, [and] among theseare life. Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (Rauch, p.95). With these words, how could Congress not pursue thisbill for the sake of our fellow citizens?
    17. 17. 2011-2013: The Journey Ensues
    18. 18. 2011-2013: The Journey Ensues
    19. 19. 2011-2013: The Journey Ensues“First GayPresident”
    20. 20. 2011-2013: The Journey EnsuesBy Newsweek Magazine, Barrack Obama is consideredthe “the first gay president” as he openly addressesthe fact that gay couples have a right to be married inthe United States. He mentions same-sex marriage inhis Inauguration speech stating that he shall not restuntil they are considered equal. He made this boldstatement at the United States Capitol, where aboutthree years prior Washington D.C. had legalized gaymarriage.
    21. 21. 2011-2013: The Journey EnsuesIn March 2013, Hillary Clinton expressed her support for same-sex marriage. This was not the case thirteen year prior whenshe stated, “[M]arriage has got historic, religious, and moralcontent that goes back to the beginning of time, and I think amarriage is a marriage has always been: between a man and awoman” (Gerstmann, p23).This move was very significant as Bill Clinton signed theDefense of Marriage Act (DOMA) when he was President in1996. However, seven years later he made a statement: “Ibelieve that in 2013 DOMA and opposition to marriageequality are vestiges of just such an unfamiliar society” (TheWashington Post).
    22. 22. 2011-2013: The Journey Ensues
    23. 23. ResourcesSlide 2Muzzy, F. (2005). Images of America: Gay and Lesbian Washington, D.C. Charlestown: Arcadia Publishing.The Cultural Landscape Foundation. (2012). Pierre L’Enfant [photograph], April 2, 2013, from 544 ‘Military Instrvction’ (portion of Baron von Steuben monu) [photograph]; April 2, 2013, from 3Muzzy, F. (2005). Images of America: Gay and Lesbian Washington, D.C. Charlestown: Arcadia Publishing.Discovery News. (2012). No, Abraham Lincoln Didn’t Invent Facebook[photograph], April 2, 2013, from did-not-invent-facebook-120509.htm.Truth Wins Out. (2012). A Family History Provides More Proof Lincoln Was Gay [photograph]; April 2, 2013, from 4Muzzy, F. (2005). Images of America: Gay and Lesbian Washington, D.C. Charlestown: Arcadia Publishing.Google Search. Hoover-gay-1-12-10 [photograph]; April 2, 2013, from 5Andryszewski, T. (2008). Same-Sex Marriage: Moral Good or Civil Wrong? Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century.Slide 6Human Rights Campaign YouTube Channel. (2009, November). Soulful Voices for Marriage Equality. Retrieved April 1st, 2013, from DC Center. (2009, October). October 29th: Rise a Soulful Voice for Marriage Equality. Retrieved April 1st, 2013, from
    24. 24. ResourcesSlide 7Wikipedia. (2013, March). National Equality March. Retrieved April 1, 2013, from Life. Lady Gaga at the Annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner and National Equality March 3. Retrieved April 1, 2013,from 8Talk Radio News You Tube Channel. (2009, October). Lady Gaga Addresses The National Equality March. Retrieved April 1, 2013, from 9The Washington Post. (2009, November). Fenty to sign same-sex marriage bill at church in NW D.C. Retrieved April 1, 2013, from (2009, December). D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty Signs Gay Marriage Bill. Retrieved April 1, 2013, from D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty signs same sex marriage equality bill [photograph (number 6)]; April 4, 2013, from: 10Standing on the Side of Love. About Standing on the Side of Love [photograph]. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from on the Side of Love. (2013). About Standing on the Side of Love. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from (2009, December). D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty Signs Gay Marriage Bill. Retrieved April 1, 2013, from Universalist Association of Congregations. (2009). Unitarian Universalist Leaders Applaud Signing of DC Equal MarriageLegislation [photograph], Retrieved April 1, 2013, from
    25. 25. ResourcesSlide 11National Park Service. Photo of Mayor Vincent Gray [photograph]. Retrieved April 5, 2013, from Business of Federal Technology. (2013). D.C. delegate supports furloughed feds [photograph]. Retrieved April 6, 2013, from (2009). D.C.’s Marion Barry arrested again [photograph]. Retrieved April 5, 2013, from Huffington Post. (2012, May). Vincent Gray Thanks Obama For Supporting Same Sex Marriage. Retrieved April 5, 2013, from (2009, October). DC’s Eleanor Holmes Norton backs Same-Sex Marriage bill. Retrieved April 6, 2013, from Washington Post. (2009, May). Barry Warns of “Civil War” Over Gay Marriage. Retrieved April 5, 2013, from 12The New York Times. (2010, May). Gay Marriage Is Legal in U.S. Capital. Retrieved April 1, 2013, from New York Times. (2010). Gay Marriage Is Legal in U.S. Capital [photograph], Retrieved: April 2, 2013 from: Note: The Observatory blog. (2010). Same-Sex Marriage Legal in Washington DC. [photograph]. Retrieved April 1st, 2013, from 13The Washington Post. (2010, March). D.C. gay couple caps a momentous first by tying the knot. Retrieved April 1, 2013, from Washington Post. (2010). D.C. gay couple caps a momentous first by tying the knot [photograph]. Retrieved April 7, 2013, from Gay Life. Same-Sex Marriage in the District of Columbia [photograph]. Retrieved April 3, 2013, from
    26. 26. ResourcesSlide 14The Washington Post. (2010, March). D.C. gay couple caps a momentous first by tying the knot. Retrieved April 4, 2013, from New York Times. (2010, May). Gay Marriage Is Legal in U.S. Capital. Retrieved April 4, 2013, from You Tube Channel. (2010, March). DC’s first same-sex marriage. Retrieved April 4, 2013, from 15The Washington Blade. (2010, February). Churches: Where to wed. Retrieved April 3, 2013, from City Christian Church. Historic Church [photographs]. Retrieved April 3, 2013, from Lutheran. About Georgetown Lutheran Weddings [photograph]. Retrieved April 3, 2013, from Church. Our Church gallery [photograph]. Retrieved April 3, 2013, from Mark’s Episcopal Church. Who We Are [photograph]. Retrieved April 3, 2013, from 16Rauch, J. (2004). Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America. New York: Times.Slide 17Right Wing Watch. (2013). Ralph Reed’s Group Wants to Cut Grants to the National Cathedral over Gay Marriage [photograph]. RetrievedApril 8, 2013, from National Cathedral: Press Room. (2013, January). Washington National Cathedral to Celebrate Same-sex Weddings. RetrievedApril 7, 2013, from
    27. 27. ResourcesSlide 18Café Press. Obama Gay Pride Gifts [photographs]. Retrieved April 8 2013, from 19ABC News. (2012). Newsweek Cover: Obama ‘First Gay President’ [photograph]. Retrieved April 10, 2013, from 20Your Hot News You Tube channel. (2013, January). Gay Right in Obama’s Presidential Inauguration Speech – Jan. 21, 2013. Retrieved April 6,2013, from Today. (2012, May). ‘Newsweek cover: Obama ‘first gay president’. Retrieved April 1, 2013, from: 21Human Rights Campaign You Tube channel. (2013, March). Hillary Clinton for HRC’s Americans for Marriage Equality. Retrieved April 4,2013, from Clinton for the Washington Post. (2013, March). It’s time to overturn DOMA. Retrieved April 10, 2013, from, E. (2008). Same-sex Marriage and the Constitution (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.Slide 22The Huffington Post. (2013, March). Supreme Court Marriage Hearing Tickets, While Technically Free, Run Up To $6,000 For A Seat.Retrieved April 9, 2013, from New York Times. (2013). Q. and A.: A Decisive Moment on Gay Marriage [photograph]. Retrieved April 9, 2013, from Huffington Post. (2013). Supreme Court Marriage Hearing Tickets, While Technically Free, Run Up To $6,000 For A Seat [photograph].Retrieved April 9, 2013, from