As the Supreme Court is deciding the fate of same sex marriage federal marriage benefits and state marriage recognition, a discovery has been made that dates the issue of same sex marriage as far back as the 70s.
The Queer Museum features a photo from circa 1970 of two African American women posed together in a wedding photo after their wedding. The couple were married in Chicago, but a marriage license does not accompany the picture.
The picture features Edna Knowles and Peaches Stevens who were married, not in a chapel, but at a gay bar on the South Side of Chicago called Liz’s Mark III Lounge. The picture was featured in Jet Magazine’s October 15, 1970 issue and said that the wedding took place “before a host of friends and well wishers.” The article also mentioned that “although the duo has a type of ‘marriage license’ in their possession, the state’s official marriage license bureau reported it had no record of their license.”
The present fight for marriage equality definitely applies to the couple and we can’t help but wonder if they are marching in D.C. to have their marriage receive the recognition that is long overdue. But an even more interesting fact from the Queer Museum is that prior to the Civil Rights Movement, back in the 1930s and 40s, African American homosexuals were creating ways to have their same sex marriages recognized.
“Actual marriage licenses were obtained by either masculinizing the first name, or having a gay male surrogate obtain the license for the marrying couple. These marriage licenses were placed on file with the New York City Marriage Bureau.” – Luvenia Pinson, “The Black Lesbian: Times Past-Time Present,” Womanews, May 1980 p. 8.”
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