Boston becomes the first US city to issue gender-neutral marriage licenses in a historic passing of new guidelines.
The changes were passed to provide “more dignified experiences” for all Bostonians, including those whose gender and sexual identities have “historically not been recognized or supported by government agencies.”
“Our fundamental charge in public service is ensuring that our services and opportunities reach everyone, and that starts with affirming and supporting constituents of all identities,” said Mayor Michelle Wu in a statement.
She added, “Boston must continue to work to dismantle the historic inequities and injustices that persist. This update to Boston marriage licenses is a huge step in building a city that is truly inclusive.”
The first gender-neutral marriage license was issued to Kimberly Rhoten, who identifies as nonbinary and serves as director of policy and strategic initiatives for the city’s Office of Returning Citizens.
“I have eagerly awaited a transformative future when my identity and the identities of my community would be recognized and respected by the institutions that govern us,” said Rhoten.
During a press conference following the issuing of their marriage license, Rhoten spoke about the significance of this change.
“For many, … a marriage certificate is a symbol of love and commitment,” Rhoten said. “But unfortunately for people like me, the certificates’ outdated and narrow gender markers were a glaring reminder that our city still had a long way to go to acknowledging our existence. They were a subtle yet powerful message that our love, our relationships, and our identities were somehow less valid and less recognized under the eyes of the law and the City of Boston.”
In addition to the issuing of new licenses, residents who wish to change their existing marriage licenses to be gender-neutral are also able to do so.
“This is not just a win for the queer community — it’s a win for everyone who believes in the principles of fairness, equality, and equal access to our city’s services,” Rhoten said. “It’s a win for Boston.”