For decades, LGBT activists have fought hard for the right to marry. Today, they got it.

Exactly two years after the Supreme Court struck down provisions in the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Prop 8, the country finally has marriage equality.

On the morning of June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that marriage equality is the law in all 50 states.

In a 5-4 ruling, it ruled that state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional.


But let's take a look at how we got here — below is a timeline of the fight for marriage equality from 2003 to 2015. Enjoy!

2003-2007: Marriage in Massachusetts and the era of the civil union.

On Nov. 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that the state must allow same-sex couples to get married unless the legislature amended the state's constitution. While Vermont had legalized civil unions in 2000, this awesome decision made Massachusetts the first state to legally recognize same-sex couples as being married!

Karen O'Brien Ahlers and Michelle Joanne Blair during their wedding in Framingham, Massachusetts, following the ruling by the state Supreme Court. Photo by Douglas McFadd/Getty Images.

In early 2004, the state legislature debated amending its constitution to recognize marriage as being a union between one man and one woman. The amendment was supported by then-Gov. Mitt Romney, but luckily, it failed to become law! Marriage remained legal statewide.


Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaking at a press conference on Feb. 11, 2004, in support of amending the state's constitution to revoke same-sex marriage rights. Photo by Michael Springer/Getty Images.

In 2004, Maine passed a civil partnership bill. In 2006, New Jersey joined them.

During the 2006 mid-term elections, Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin passed statewide same-sex marriage bans by referendum. — bleh.

In 2007, Washington, Oregon, and New Hampshire signed civil union/domestic partnership bills into law. (Slow and steady wins the race.)

2008: Connecticut and California (kinda — Prop 8).

On May 15, 2008, California's Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality. The following month, couples began to get married! Love! Happiness! Et cetera!

This picture, taken June 17, 2008, shows newlyweds Ariel Owens and Joseph Barham exiting San Francisco City Hall following the state Supreme Court decision granting marriage equality. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Unfortunately, that victory was short-lived. That November, the state would vote on Proposition 8, a referendum that would effectively undo the court's decision. Prop 8 passed with 52% of people voting in its favor, putting an end to same-sex marriage in California.

On Nov. 5, 2008, on the day after the Proposition 8 vote, LGBT individuals and allies rallied, devastated but determined to fight. Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images.

Maryland passed a domestic partnership bill into law, and in October, marriage equality came to Connecticut as the result of a state Supreme Court ruling. In all, 2008 was up and down.

2009: Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and D.C. legalize marriage.

In 2009, three states (plus D.C.!) joined Massachusetts and Connecticut in legalizing same-sex marriage.

On April 3, Iowa's Supreme Court ruled the state's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Four days later, Vermont became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage through its legislature when it overrode a veto by Gov. Jim Douglas! That June, New Hampshire's Gov. John Lynch signed a similar bill into law. The District of Columbia Council voted to recognize same-sex marriage in December.

Marriage was on a roll!

A couple applies for a marriage license on April 27, 2009, at Iowa's Polk County Administration Building. Earlier that month, the state's Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

2010-2012: New York, Washington, and rights by popular vote.

As states like Illinois, Hawaii, Delaware, and Rhode Island passed civil unions bills into law, other states aimed higher. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the state's marriage equality bill into law on June 24, 2011, after narrowly passing through the state Senate.

In early 2012, same-sex marriage came to Washington and Maryland by way of their state legislatures. These victories were short-lived after the laws' opponents collected enough signatures to put the bills up for a public referendum in the November elections.

In November, voters in Maine, Maryland, and Washington voted in favor of marriage equality. For the first time in U.S. history, states voted to enact marriage equality by popular vote. Prior to this, the issue was frequently placed on ballots as a way to increase voter turnout among evangelical Christians. The tide had finally turned.

2013-2014: Down with DOMA, putting an end to Prop 8, and the marriage equality tipping point.

In May 2013, governors in Rhode Island, Delaware, and Minnesota signed marriage equality bills into law.

That June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned California's Proposition 8 as well as Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. Section 3 was the portion of the law that prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. These rulings set off a chain reaction in the states. Big things were happening! Big things!

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act and overturned California's Proposition 8. This was a major victory for LGBTQ individuals. Photo by Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images.

In October, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie dropped the state's appeal of a court decision in favor of marriage equality. In November, Hawaii became the 15th state to grant marriage rights to same-sex couples. Illinois joined the club a week later, and New Mexico the month after that.


A man attends the marriage equality signing ceremony in Illinois on Nov. 20, 2013. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

In 2014, same-sex marriage came to Oregon, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Wyoming, Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, and Montana by way of court rulings. Florida would join during the first week of 2015.

2015: Showdown at the Supreme Court.

As same-sex marriage bans fell one after another, it became clear that the issue was headed back to the Supreme Court for what many hoped would be a once and for all.

On April 28, the court heard arguments in the Obergefell v. Hodges case. On June 26, 2015, the ruling came back. It's finally here! Marriage equality is here!

Yes! Love! Yes.


Photo by Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images.

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Today, I'm a 35-year-old man with a flame shaved into my beard. If the '80s movies I love so much are any indication, this is a sure sign I'm going through some kind of existential crisis. Next week, when the semester starts and I begin teaching again, it will not be strange if my colleagues start to worry about me just a little. A sports car or a neck-jerking pivot to physical fitness — that's an understandable response to the realization that life is fleeting. But a large meticulous flame carved out of facial hair? What does one do with that?

At this moment, though, I'm showing my face proudly to a woman wearing a swimsuit with a taco cat on it. We have only recently met, but she's telling me that she's so into my "fade" that she wants to kiss it. Then she does, blowing a raspberry into my cheek so hard that her hat falls off. Neither of us can stop laughing.

"Live Mas!" she yells with the excitement of someone who's never had trouble fully seizing the moment.

"Live Mas!" I shout back without any irony. There is no irony here in Palm Springs, where, for four days only, hundreds of people celebrate their love for Taco Bell.

Here, there's only swimming and hot sauce-themed leisure wear, and the warm pleasant feeling that comes from eating too much and knowing that you're with your own people. Even if the only thing that connects you is a love for a fast food giant that feeds you when you're hammered and shameless at 2 a.m.

We drank the Baja Blast! My Taco Bell fade and my friend's specialty manicure!Mark Shrayber

What does it mean to Live Mas? This is a question I am forced to ask myself over and over during my 24-hour stay at "The Bell," where I have stowed away as a friend's plus-one. We are, of course, both politely pretending that I'm a full-on guest with all the perks that entails, but we also both know that I wouldn't be here eating unlimited quesadillas poolside without her.

So maybe that's the first thing Live Mas means: To build strong lifelong connections which you can, with some luck, exploit to your benefit. :) :) :)

But this is too cynical an interpretation, because everyone here is so happy. Happy that they've gotten a reservation; happy that they can cool off in a room themed after an iconic Mountain Dew Drink, and happy that they can share their own personal story of what Taco Bell means to them. (Though there's no formal essay contest — I've checked.)

Me: This room won't be that cool. Also me: OH MY GOD, THIS IS THE COOLEST ROOM I'VE EVER BEEN IN!!!Mark Shrayber

Snatches of this story float around the "Fire" pool, where all the entertainment is concentrated: One couple canceled their trip to Prague because "Prague will always be there" — a brave stance considering climate change; another met last year on Tinder after the girlfriend's Taco Bell senior photos went viral; at the opening ceremony on Thursday, where sauce packets were cut instead of a ribbon, a city official brought others to tears with both her Taco Bell fashion and a memory of how her parents would feed an entire family with 19-cent-tacos from the first-ever Taco Bell in Downey, California.

Oh, I forgot one: The guy who skipped out on Prague? He got a giant bell shaved into the side of his head, so he might have to miss out on a black-tie event happening later this week. But it's all good. Bring on the nacho fries.

I make fast friends with four women who are here for a bachelorette party, the bride overwhelmed with good vibes and prosecco. This year, for her 30th, she rented a party bus. Inside? $100 worth of Taco Bell that her fiancee was worried might not be consumed.

"But little did he know," she shouts in the hot tub where we're "cooling off" after a long day of 108-degree sunning, "we ate it all!"

A bachelorette party and a birthday! We're really living it up (but also staying hydrated.)Mark Shrayber

Others whoop it up at the twist, but we all get it. Though there's no essay contest, I don't mind telling you that when my first boyfriend dumped me 14 years ago, I stuffed my face with chalupas. When I lost a job I really loved four years ago, I once ordered so much Taco Bell that the delivery app of my choice informed me I'd exceeded the maximum number of items they could comfortably fill in one order. We get it — though none of us can truly explain it.

There are, if you look at the The Bell from a literary perspective, many other writers who deserve this experience more than me. They could talk about the blue of the pool. Or the insouciance of youth. Draw parallels between marketing stunts such as this and the end-stage capitalism. Or envision a "Demolition Man" future where Taco Bell is fine dining and none of us know how to use the three shells in the bathroom to get ourselves clean.

And I wish these writers could be here to paint you these landscapes, but what you've got is me, a literal Taco Bell super-fan, and what I'm doing is eating and getting sunburned and taking a synchronized swimming class with the Aqualillies, who refer to themselves as "the world's most glamorous water ballet entertainment," but have very little idea of what to do with 10 eager recruits who can't stay afloat or on beat.


G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S!!Photo courtesy of Taco Bell.

"It's okay," one of the instructors comforts me just before the Tacolilies (the name of our "team") are invited to perform our watery version of "Senorita" — which was supposed to be two minutes long, then 1:15, and has now been judiciously cut down, due to talent, to about 45 seconds — in the bigger pool. "We regularly teach five-year-olds. And you're doing much better."

Usually, I would take offense at such blatant reads, but today I'm unbothered. I'll continue to be so right until I get home and discover that I've left all my electronics on United Flight 5223 (if anyone wants to get them back to me). And even then, I rage at myself for all of five seconds before checking that I've still got what's important: A certificate that says I did not drown while doing water ballet.

It's still there. As is my phone, which is blowing up with messages from people who took pictures of me in what Taco Bell calls its "power suit," and which is best described as "cult outfit, but kinda make it fashion." I bought my husband one, too, and I look forward to the argument we're going to have about holiday cards later.

This is "Live Mas."

I've never been so happy to match with someone else in my life. MaMark Shrayber

Or maybe it's the moment another stranger tells me that we'll be friends forever. Such friendships are forged quickly when you've got less than 24 hours to make lifelong connections and I'm pleased to get the full experience.

"We may never meet again," he says while we're swimming, "but we'll always have this time together."

Then we establish that he lives just across the park from me in San Francisco.

"Aw, man," he says, floating away to take pictures of the people he came with, "I've got lots of close friends I never see because they live across that damn park."

But the sentiment holds.

We Live Mas it on.

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