One gay couple won a longstanding battle to have their marriage from 1971 recognized by the government.
On February 16 of this year, the Social Security Administration sent a letter to Richard John “Jack” Baker and Michael McConnell. The letter stated that the government recognized their marriage as legal. This also means that the two were entitled to couple’s benefits.
“This is really a Valentine,” said McConnell according to LGBTQ Nation.
“It proves what I’ve always said. Jack and I are in our 70s, and we’ve been married almost 50 years.”
“Our marriage is all about the power of love,” McConnell added. “Sometimes it takes a while, but in the end, love always wins.”
According to City Pages, the two men met in 1966 at a Halloween Party in Norman Oklahoma. A friend of McConnell’s set them up.
“When he flashed his movie star smile at me, I forgot to breathe,” said McConnell in his memoir, The Wedding Heard ‘Round the World.
In 1970, the two applied for a marriage license in Hennepin County, Minnesota.They were turned down and dismissed by the Minnesota Supreme Court. Afterwards, they replied in Blue Earth County, Minnesota. That time, their request was approved.
Back then, there was no law against same-sex marriage. As such, the license to marry was granted after the waiting period expired.
Unfortunately, conservative members of the community caught wind of the marriage, which led to the county’s attorney asking the Blue Earth County clerk not to record it. But, that meant that the marriage wasn’t removed. Just ignored. Since then, the two have insisted that they are the first legally married gay couple in America.
But now the two men have reached their 70s and are looking for support from Social Security. They want benefits as a couple, but met pushback from the IRS who challenged the validity of their license. They argued that the Defense of Marriage Act prohibited the IRS from recognizing the marriage license.
Baker and McConnell then went through a series of battles over the license. Finally, a district court in Minnesota issued on September 18, 2018 a ruling saying that “The marriage is declared to be in all respects valid.”
Congratulations to the happy couple. You are gay pride, gay history, and a great example of gay love.