Cambridge celebrates 20-year anniversary of same sex marriage amid international warning

City officials and leaders of the marriage equality movement celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first same-sex marriage licenses issued in 2004.

Pictures and exhibits at the Kendall Center in Cambridge Friday illustrated the 20-year journey since May 17, 2004.

“We were the first to open our doors,” said Cambridge’s mayor Denise Simmons. “We were the first to let people in to get married, and I hope that this first becomes history.”

Mayor Simmons has been in office for 16 years but served as a longtime city councilor as well. She became the first black, openly gay mayor in the country in 2008. During that time, she has continued to fight for gay rights in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and beyond.

She added, “It wasn’t an easy fight.”

Friday’s celebration came just hours after the U.S. Department of State issued a warning to the LGBTQ+ community traveling abroad ahead of pride month.

Their statement in part read:

Due to the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations, or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests, the Department of State advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution. The Department of State is aware of the increased potential for foreign terrorist organization-inspired violence against LGBTQI+ persons and events and advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community Friday said these obstacles are part of their ongoing fight.

Former state representative Byron Rushing played a pivotal role in the years leading up to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.

“Sometimes it’s fast, sometimes it’s slow, but it’s always forward,” said Rushing about their progress and global pushback. "

He told Boston 25 he imagines a world in another 20 years where gay marriage is, “Incredibly ordinary. That they can live their lives how they want to. Live the way they want to live.”

The U.S. Department of State urges anyone traveling to stay alert among large crowds and keep in contact with their department for the latest threats.

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