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South Enders Celebrate Marriage Equality Anniversary at Public Garden

Friday marks the 9th anniversary of the law that allowed gay and lesbian couples to marry in Massachusetts.

Dozens of local gay and lesbian couples gathered at the Boston Public Garden Thursday to celebrate the 9th anniversary of the law that gave them the right to marry in Massachusetts.

The celebration, put on in partnership between Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), the Respect for Marriage Coalition and Mayor Thomas Menino, ended with a group photo at a location popular for wedding photography.

Michael Kelley and Ricardo Rodriguez of the South End were on hand Thursday. Kelley said that before marriage equality was in place, people referred to himself and Rodriguez as "friends, boyfriends, that friend, partner," but that all changed when they were wed.

"That is exactly the power of marriage," Kelley said.

"It's been an extraordinary five years," said Ellen Wade of Newton, who along with her wife, Maureen Brodoff, were one of the plaintiffs in the landmark case they won in 2003 that led to the adoption of marriage equality in the state.

"It's been exciting and inspiring, and we're grateful to have played a small part in showing the country what marriage equality looks like," Wade said, and in gesturing to the crowd, added, "it looks like us."

Bette Jo Green and Jo Ann Whitehead of Jamaica Plain have been together for over 32 years and both have battled cancer. But because of the Defense of Marriage Act, they worry about their financial future.

"If Bette were to predecease me, I would not get the Social Security Spousal Benefits that other married couples are able to have," Whitehead said. "We're very hopeful the Supreme Court will strike down DOMA and there will be equality for all under the law."

Menino was unable to attend the ceremony, but in a statement read by Jullieanne Doherty from his office, he said it was an important anniversary for the city, state and nation.

"Nine years ago was one of my proudest days as mayor of Boston," Doherty read from Menino's statement.

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