Thu, Jun

Boston Passes Historic Rule That Lets People Marry… Without Gender


LGBTQ - On Tuesday, the City of Boston announced it will no longer require applicants for a marriage license to register their sex or gender identity.

It was a day that Boston’s director of policy and strategic initiatives Kimberley Rhoten, who identifies as nonbinary, has “eagerly awaited.”

“Unfortunately for people like me, the certificate’s outdated and narrow gender markers were a glaring reminder that our city still had a long way to go in acknowledging our existence,” they said.

At a press conference, Rhoten was presented with the first new marriage license by Boston Registrar Paul Chong, who told them: “Your love makes the world a better place. It makes this city a better place.”

The change is part of a broader effort by Boston Mayor Michelle Wu to address gender identity in city services.  

“Our fundamental charge in public service is ensuring that our services and opportunities reach everyone, and that starts with affirming and supporting constituents of all identities,” Wu said announcing the change.

“This update to Boston marriage licenses is a huge step in building a City that is truly inclusive, and I’m excited to see how these critical changes for accessibility at City Hall serve Bostonians.”

The new gender awareness initiative outlines a strategy to address how Boston collects gender data, how it’s used, and what city services are impacted by it.

“Right now, we ask residents about gender identity to deliver key services,” an explainer on the city’s website reads. “But when we ask, we often aren’t using language that represents all gender identities and may not even need gender identity to deliver some of these services. We want to understand how to ask about gender identity in an accessible, affirming, and safe way.”

The marriage license update is one result.

According to Rhoten, the change will help to alleviate gender dysphoria among non-binary individuals and spare them from “having to pick from a list of limited, narrow, and delineated options.”

“And for those of us who change and grow, later identifying with a different gender than when we first got married, our marriage certificates no longer constrain us and can now reflect the love we hold without disrespecting who we’ve grown into and our new pronouns,” she said.

Rhoten asserted the new marriage license is “not just a win for the queer community. It’s a win for everyone who believes in the principles of fairness, equality, and equal access to our city’s services. It’s a win for Boston.”

(Greg Nelson is a writer for LGBTQ Nation where this was first published.)