Gay Marriage

Friday A/V Club: Scenes from a Gay Wedding in 1971

A look back at Baker v. Nelson, with footage from the plaintiffs' marriage ceremony

|

Look! Out there! It's people looking at us! People from THE FUTURE!
WCCO-TV

Obergefell v. Hodges is far from the first court case to tackle the topic of gay marriage. Way back in 1971, Jack Baker and Michael McConnell were wed in Minnesota. Their attempts to acquire a legally valid license sparked Baker v. Nelson, in which the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that men did not have a constitutional right to marry one another. (The decision also declared that marriage's status as "a union of man and woman, uniquely involving the procreation and rearing of children within a family, is as old as the book of Genesis.") The couple tried to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, but back then SCOTUS wasn't interested.

Below you can see some footage from Baker and McConnell's wedding ceremony. It aired two years after the nuptials, on the WCCO-TV show Moore on Sunday (hence the narration):

More than four decades later, Baker and McConnell are still together.

The full Moore on Sunday report was included in a student video project about a year after it aired. It's a pretty amazing artifact of the era, and I've embedded it below.

Part 1:

Part 2:

For more on the long history of gay marriage, go here. For past installments of the Friday A/V Club, go here.

NEXT: Ronald Bailey on the Feds' Epic Cybersecurity Fail

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Everything is great and nobody is happy.

  2. “More than four decades later, the two men are still together.”

    That is good to learn, and I don’t intend to detract from the great relationship these men obviously share, but aren’t most marriages from the early 70s still going strong?

    Additionally, good for them to ignore the government and get married regardless. It was a very – dare I claim it? – libertarian moment.

    1. I never know what statistics to believe, but Avvo claims that 48% of marriages end in separation OR divorce within 20 years.

      1. Anecdotally, that seems accurate. I want to say that at least half the people I know have been through one divorce… and a non-insignificant number of people I know have been through multiple divorces.

      2. I don’t know about the 48% statistic, but Thomas Sowell said that the oft-touted 50% statistic is flawed. They apparently compared the number of marriages in a year to the number of divorces. He pointed out that it’s like saying that half of the population died if the number of deaths were twice the number as births.

        1. *number of births

        2. blah, I mixed that up. Births twice the number of deaths

        3. It’s tough to say. For instance, if I take my ex wife, there’s lots of opportunity for double counting.

          She’s been married to most of the people I know and often random strangers I meet on the street claim to have been married to her at one time or another…

          1. At least she’s giving you good conversation starters

            1. It’s really more of a conversation ender, if you know what I mean.

          2. What’s the marriage equivalent of Eskimo Brother?

  3. SCOTUS shouldn’t be interested today.

  4. Now I’ve changed my opinion – from ‘I’m against all government sanctioned marriage’ to “This is the best day in human history!”
    [local gay bars are serving free liquor and food tonight – nice it’s a friday]

      1. The clapping Lincolns always crack me up.

  5. Out of all of of these SCOTUS decisions, this will be the one that the children of later generations learn about in the history books. Assuming they’re allowed to read in the camps.

    1. My nephews are already confused by the notion of books. They seem to regard them as hard copies of PDFs.

      1. I read all my novels thru tweets.

      2. I lol’ed when I saw this. Neither of my older boys, who spend copious amounts of time on computers, understood it.

  6. I’m hoping that we are witnessing the last jizzy spasms of triumphalism on the gay marriage issue. Oh, I’m sure there will be a few more dribbles, but I’m past ready to move on.

    Structural and institutional damage has been done, IMO, by the way this has been handled. Cultural forces that are inimical to liberty have managed to hitch their wagon to the gay marriage issue, and have become more powerful and aggressive as a result.

    Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad gay folks can get marriage licenses now. Unfortunately the road to this happy result has taken twists and turns that are too predictable in our current society, and unnecessary damage has been done.

    1. On the plus side, one state exited the marriage licensure racket altogether. So when polygamy comes up for reconsideration we’ll have a data point for “State Out of Marriage” discussions.

    2. Is that not the case for any good social movement? Plenty of socialists and communists were involved in the civil rights movement. Today’s immigration crisis has a whole bunch of unsavory assholes on the side that wants to help foreigners live and work in peace.

  7. a union of man and woman, uniquely involving the procreation and rearing of children within a family, is as old as the book of Genesis.

    As a societal institution marriage is only about 2700 years old?

    Who knew?!?

    1. Younger than that, as you probably know, in many cultures from which Christian Americans are descended.

      1. Well that’s the thing. The early Christian view of marriage was basically the supplanting of the Hebraic model with the Roman model.

        1. You always have to show off your big brain. Where I was going was: Given that neither model was popular beyond the Alps until after 330 AD, unless you were on the Roman side of those mountains, marriage was a much more fluid concept. But it was nice to learn the exact definition of a concubine.

          1. unless you were on the Roman side of those mountains, marriage was a much more fluid concept.

            I agree. I think you can still see this when you consider the high rate of illegitimacy in Europe, which as I understand it is a reflection of what we in the US would consider common-law marriages.

            1. Interesting to compare the core Med. countries and how widely the stats vary with Greece being the lowest among Italy, Spain, Portugal and France (in that order). How does one conclude anything from those numbers?

    2. What does Mike Rutherford have to do with it?

      1. It’s all about his invisible touch.

        1. I’ve got no reply at all

        2. Really? You two are going to quote from post-Peter Gabriel Genesis songs, completely ignoring the actually good Genesis, and not even go with a Mike and the Mechanics song? You sicken me!

          All I need is a fucking miracle.

          1. Sorry, I couldn’t make anything work with the Colony of Slippermen

            1. You fags will all rue Smallcreep’s Day….

      2. His awesome unaccompanied base-pedal solos?

    3. Most marriages feel 2700 years old after the first ten years…

    4. Considering that 2700 years is half the age of the entire universe, maybe you shouldn’t be crackin’ wise.

  8. I love gay marriage, really I do. But compared to the ACA ruling, this is really a sideshow.

    Gay marriage has been becoming legal in an increasing number of states– if there was ever an obvious political and social tidal wave, gay marriage would probably be it.

    I’m not sure if Reason is socially signaling that “we’re ok with the gays too!” with 900 posts a minute on gay marriage, but my ass actually hurts from the ACA ruling. Gay marriage hasn’t changed one tiny thing in my relatively sequestered life.

    1. Exactly my thoughts, and kind of what I was snarkily getting at with the children reading about this in camps. The significance associated with this event is not proportionate to the amount it actually affects people. Whereas the ACA ruling will be extremely detrimental to the vast majority, not to mention the precedence these rulings have set for judges determining public policy.

    2. Seriously. I mean, why do Reason writers expend so much effort reporting on freedoms that I don’t even use!

    3. “I’m not sure if Reason is socially signaling that “we’re ok with the gays too!” with 900 posts a minute on gay marriage, but my ass actually hurts from the ACA ruling. Gay marriage hasn’t changed one tiny thing in my relatively sequestered life.”

      The issue I have is how many important things are going on in the world which get completely ignored in service to Post # 237 on gay marriage. There were four terrorist attacks in the last few days which have left dozens dead in multiple different countries which they haven’t mentioned except for a quick post in AM links. 62 dead just counting Tunisia and Kuwait’s attacks, plus a decapitated body in France. How do you think gay rights are going to be looking in France if these sorts of attacks keep up? Gay Frenchmen seem like an awfully tempting target for Islamists, especially given that an Islamist actually stabbed the gay mayor of Paris in the chest only about a decade ago.

      But fuck it, who cares about global Jihad (which seems like a pretty major NAP violation, at least for the 80 or so people murdered in the last 24 hours!) when we can have yet another post about gay marriage, which was a foregone conclusion even before the Supreme Court decision?

      1. There were four terrorist attacks in the last few days which have left dozens dead in multiple different countries which they haven’t mentioned except for a quick post in AM links.

        That’s a fucking LIE!!! Only the US has terrorist mass murders because GUNZZZ CONFEDERATE FLAG RETHUGLITEAHDIST RACIST!!!!!!1111one

      2. Fair enough, but Reason rarely reports on these things anyway, and half the time they report it poorly. Plus, we’re America, bitch.

      3. While I know the Free Markets part of reason is the more cultural and generalized concept of free markets, I’m appalled at the absence of any hard news relating to the economy.

        For those paying attention, we’re experiencing some completely unpredicted and down-right odd gyrations in many of the markets (credit, stock, fx and bond). But, hey, as long as the ghays can marry who cares if we’re all broke?

        1. What do you think is happening?

          1. IDK, but things look fragile, sorta of like a spinning top right before it loses its momentum. I think many participants are wondering if it’s just the start of a normal recession or something else entirely. The central banks have created so many distortions that it’s hard to say what is and isn’t normal.

            Some weird bond gyration in Japan or the EU could be a game changer. There’s very little liquidity in any of the bond markets so prices seem unstable.

    4. Are you saying the blog hasn’t had enough posts about the ACA ruling?

      It’s a big decision, despite its inevitability. A lot of people are really happy. It’s only been 4 hours since the announcement. Sheesh.

  9. Fuckin finally. This was an easy decision and took forever. Once drugs are legalized, people might actually focus on the more important economy.

    Road to free markets and capitalism

    1. Man. I wish I had any of your optimism.

      1. Yeah “when drugs are legalized”

        I’m in a state where they “legalized” recreational marijuana, and it’s the most godawful, soviet-style state-run marketplace you could never dream up without laughing yourself hoarse.

        1. I can imagine. Here in NH, all liquor must be sold through state outlets. (Beer and wine you can get at the supermarket.) Try getting something that is not Bacardi, Absolut, or Jack Daniels. This was pretty much my reaction The first time I walked into a larger liquor store in Mass.

          1. Live free or… die regulated up the wazoo.

          2. Drive to the new Total Wine store near Hartford, CT and you’ll get this reaction again.

        2. Paul, did you know there is at least one delivery service in the city that delivers weed and only technically takes “donations” as payment, so it’s not taxed, and its prices are comparable with street prices? And they usually actually have like 8 strains to choose from? They deliver to you within an hour?

        3. NJ has a medical marijuana law on the books but hasn’t “licensed” any actual distributors. It’s been something like 3 years and still no distributors. Fucking Christy.

    2. “Once drugs are legalized, people might actually focus on the more important economy.”

      good one

  10. Next up: Can a baker be forced to make a gay wedding cake with a Confederate flag on it? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

    1. Only if the gay couple are “undocumented” hispanics smoking reefer.

      1. …BUTT CHUGGING reefer, Sudden…get it right.

    2. Jesus, I so want to turn away a gay couple who request a wedding cake with a Confederate flag.

      I may become a baker just so I can do this.

      The cognitive dissonance of the lefties on twitter would be awesome:

      “We love Lady Dalrymple for not baking a cake with a confederate flag!”

      “We hate Lady Dalrymple for not baking a cake for a gay couple!”

      1. Then, under crushing social pressure, bake them a Confederate flag cake free of charge and, upon delivery, throw it at them.

        Bonus points will be awarded for creative combinations of races and vanilla/chocolate cake layers.

  11. The answer involves some kind of deference.

    1. @papayasf

  12. More than four decades later, Baker and McConnell are still together.

    I do wonder how many lucky Pierres have visited their chambers in those 40 years.

  13. The more I think about this post, the more I think it undercuts the woo-hooing about today’s decision.

    Here we have an example of two people who lead happily married lives for 40 years.

    Without a state license.

    It seems like an example of why the state license isn’t really necessary for all the spiritual, emotional benefits blah blah that Kennedy was yammering on about, doesn’t it?

  14. Would these two fellows be okay with 3 gay guys getting married?

    Perhaps these guys are okay if 2 straight males married a straight female?

    If they’d have a problem with those examples, I wonder what their objections might be.

    I mean, surely these two are for freedom and liberty for everyone.

    1. Does this qualify as performance art at this point?

  15. Way back in 1971, Jack Baker and Michael McConnell were wed in Minnesota.

    WTF Reason? First you tell me how unbearably hard it was to be a homosexual in the decades between 1950-80 by explaining that homosexuals weren’t allowed to be postmen, IRS auditors, and that the government even ran people out of jobs for being gay. Then you turn around and hold up this example of a gay wedding that occurred in the 70s and no one burned at the stake or stoned to death?

    I mean, before you know it, I might begin to believe that the government is pretty fucked up and, besides petty squabbling about government jobs and who gets to check what box on their tax forms, homosexuals really haven’t been second-class citizens all along. Soon, I won’t even care what pizzeria refused to cater their wedding.

  16. Start making cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8596 a month. I’ve started this job and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…
    http://www.jobnet10.com

  17. Start making cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8596 a month. I’ve started this job and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…
    http://www.jobnet10.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.