The quest for marriage equality didn't begin in some libertine den in New York or California, it began in Norman, Oklahoma, way back in 1966. In the wake of President Obama's landmark declaration of support for same-sex marriage this week, the Washington Post looked back on the history of the movement, tracing it to that small college town, where Air Force veteran Jack Baker and librarian Michael McConnell became a couple. In 1970, they applied for a marriage license in Minnesota, the first recorded case of a gay couple asking to be legally married.
The case made national news. At the time, almost no state laws specified gender, a historian explains, "because it was unthinkable." The Minnesota Supreme Court rejected their request, declaring that "the institution of marriage as a union [of] man and woman … is as old as the book of Genesis." Around the country, states moved to outlaw same-sex marriage—because other couples were now applying, too. "The idea," the historian says, "had suddenly become thinkable." Baker and McConnell, incidentally, still live together, officially unmarried.