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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.

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

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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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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