Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Jack Baker, life long gay activist. In May of 1970, Baker and his partner, Michael McConnell, were the first same-sex couple to ever apply for a marriage license. The couple have been together now for over 40 years. McConnell had been made an offer by the University of Minnesota as a Head of Cataloging for the university library. His appointment was all but done, merely waiting approval by the Board of Regents. Unfortunately, the attention the couple received by applying for a marriage license lost McConnell his job. The University of Minnesota said “his conduct was not in the best interest of the university.” Basically, “we don’t want no homos working at the university.”
Even today, LGBT couples have a difficult time protecting shared assets and have to go through heroic efforts to ensure simple things like right of surviorship, not to mention a great deal of extra cost. Often these extra costs and efforts are still to no avail. My husband and I paid a good sum of money to set up a will in Georgia that would merely give us protection and the same rights as our heterosexual brothers and sisters. In 2004, our wills were null and void because of the virulent anti-gay laws passed. Thus we moved to Oregon. Baker and McConnell found a very creative and interesting way to protect their rights and have acknowledgement of their union legally.
In 1971, the couple had McConnell legally adopt Baker. This adoption provided for inheritance rights and entitled them to decreased tuition (family resident rates) at the University of Minnesota, where they were both students at the time; none of this would have been possible for this couple without some form of legal recognition. If this does not emphasize why we need full marriage equality, I’m not sure what will. Click here to learn more about Jack Baker.