Iconic gay couple split

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Gay Pride flag, a symbol of the LGBT community.

Julie and Hillary Goodridge, the lesbian couple who were the lead plaintiffs in the breakthrough case, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, have decided to separate.

Mary Breslauer, a local political consultant and spokeswoman for the Goodridges confirmed the separation on July 20. In a telephone interview in to The Boston Globe newspaper, Breslauer stated, "Julie and Hillary Goodridge are amicably living apart. As always their number one priority is raising their daughter, and 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." She also added that they are not filing for divorce and did not comment anymore on their plans and gave no other details except that couple is focusing on what's best for their 10-year old daughter Annie.

"Unfortunately, lesbian and gay couples break up just as heterosexual couples," said Joyce Kauffman, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based gay and lesbian family law lawyer. "It's a fact of life. There are stresses and strains on all of us. And sometimes relationships can't beat that stress. It happens to gay people just as well straight people."

Kris Mineau, president of the conservative public policy group, the Massachusetts Family Institute who are trying to put an amendment on the 2008 ballot that would repeal same-sex marriage rights in Massachusetts said the group doesn't plan to make an issue out of the separation.

The Goodridges, who are considered by some supporters of gay marriage as the face of the gay marriage cause, met at Harvard University 21 years ago in a course about divesting from South Africa, in which a intense courtship followed. Years before the legalization of gay marriage in the state, they considered themselves to be committed partners.

They and several other gay couples, with the help of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, filed a lawsuit in which the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled 4-3 on November 18th, 2003 to legalize gay marriage in Massachusetts.

They were married by a Unitarian Universalist minister on May 17, 2004, the first day that same-sex marriages were legal under the court ruling. Annie served as flower girl and ring-bearer.

The separation was first reported in Bay Windows, a Boston-based LGBT newspaper on July 20.