Couple In Same-Sex Lawsuit Separate

GoodridgeBOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – They told the world that their relationship was like any other and that’s why they should be allowed to marry. Now, friends say, they are showing once again that they are just like any other couple: Two years after getting married, Julie and Hillary Goodridge, lead plaintiffs in the state’s landmark gay marriage case, are splitting.
Mary Breslauer, a spokeswoman for the couple, confirmed the separation last night. She said the couple are focused now on trying to do what is best for their daughter, Annie, 10.
“Julie and Hillary Goodridge are amicably living apart,” Breslauer said in a telephone interview. “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.”
Breslauer said they have not filed for divorce. She would not comment on their plans and offered no other details.
Supporters of gay marriage had cast them as the face of their cause: happily together for two decades, financially stable, loving parents, and in 2004, able to legally wed. Julie Goodridge, 49, is president of NorthStar Asset Management, an investment advisory firm, and Hillary, 50, is program director for the Unitarian Universalist Funding Program.
“I just think this really doesn’t say anything,” Breslaeur said yesterday when asked by a reporter about the significance of the separation. “Our families, like other families, can face tough times, with many making it through those moments, but some not.”
Since gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts in May 2004, about 7,300 same – sex couples have obtained licenses, according to a Globe survey earlier this year. There have been about 45 divorces; the number of separations has not been reported.
“Unfortunately, lesbian and gay couples break up just as heterosexual couples,” said Joyce Kauffman, a Cambridge lawyer who specializes in gay and lesbian family law. “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.”
The separation was first reported yesterday by Bay Windows, a gay and lesbian newspaper based in Boston.
Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, a conservative public policy group that is trying to get an amendment on the 2008 ballot that would repeal same-sex marriage rights in the state, said he did not believe the couple’s separation would become an issue in the campaign.
“It’s certainly not something we’re going to make an issue out of,” he said. “We are opposed to homosexual marriage because we are concerned about the impact on children. So our thoughts and prayers go out to their little child, a little girl named Annie — 10 years old, I believe. And this is just bringing more grief upon her life, I’m sure.”
The Goodridges met 21 years ago in a class at Harvard that focused on divesting from South Africa. An intense courtship followed. Long before gay marriage became legal, they said they had considered themselves committed partners.
About a dozen years ago, they bought a century-old Victorian on a quiet street in Jamaica Plain; a decade ago, when Annie was born, they took the same last name. Five years ago, they and six other couples joined with a gay rights group, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, in filing a lawsuit seeking the right to marry in Massachusetts. Three years ago, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in their favor, vaulting Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health into history by making Massachusetts the first state in the country to recognize gay marriage.
Gay marriage opponents had long argued that legalizing same – sex marriage would break down a centuries – old institution. But the Goodridges disputed that in frequent public appearances.
“It’s impossible for me to understand how Julie and I being married contributes to the breakdown of anything,” Hillary Goodridge said in an interview two months after the ruling. “It contributes to our economic and social well-being, it certainly contributes to the strength of our family and our enduring love for each other.”
On May 17, 2004, when gay marriage became officially legal, they marched into Boston City Hall, mobbed by news media and guarded by police, and became one of the first couples in the state to apply for a marriage license.
from The Boston Globe

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