Jack Baker and Michael McConnell

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Jack Baker and Michael McConnell | Minnesota Historical Society | 14182

In 1973, gay rights activist Jack Baker and his partner, Michael McConnell, used subterfuge to get married.

Baker was a law student and McConnell a librarian. They’d been together for four years when they first applied for a marriage licence in 1970. This was rejected because they were both men, but the couple decided to fight. They appealed, and kept on appealing until the case reached the US Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case “for want of a substantial federal question”.

Undeterred, they tried again. Baker changed his name to the gender-neutral “Pat Lyn”. The licence was issued and they began to plan a wedding. They asked a Methodist minister to perform the ceremony and went through weeks of pre-marital counselling like any heterosexual couple preparing for a Methodist wedding. But with 24 hours to go, the minister changed his mind.

Pastor Roger Lynn | BBC | 14183

Pastor Roger Lynn, pictured, holding the men’s wedding licence, stepped forward. “It wasn’t just a marriage… it was a social event in the gay community,” says Lynn. Lynn pronounced the couple ‘husband and husband’” and jumped at the chance to conduct the ceremony. His church then had no rules against marrying people of the same sex. “The Methodist church has always taken a strong stand on social issues… I expected that the progressive side of the church would support me.” At the end of the ceremony, when many of the congregation came up to the pastor in tears, he says he knew he’d done the right thing. “It was very clear that these two people were in love with each other, and they were a good balance,” he says.

And the happy couple – are still together after all this time. They still live together in Minneapolis and consider themselves legally married as their licence has never been revoked!

Our previous article about Jack Baker and Michael McConnell


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