The Town of Barnstable, one of Cape Cod’s oldest towns, was founded by English settlers who left their country seeking religious freedom. The struggle for freedom continued throughout much of the Town’s early history, including the American Revolution, Civil War, two World Wars and other conflicts where basic human civil and legal rights were denied or challenged.
Marriage equality, after a long and contentious struggle, was first fully realized in Massachusetts since May 17, 2004 as a result of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health. It was from that seminal decision that it became unconstitutional under Massachusetts’ constitution to allow only opposite-sex couples to marry. With that momentous decision, Massachusetts became the sixth jurisdiction in the world (after the Netherlands, Belgium, Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec) to legalize same-sex marriage. It was the first state in the United States to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Although only a scant 12 years ago, most state residents can hardly imagine what life without marriage equality and attendant LGBTQ rights that have been realized from that watershed decision would be.
The Town of Barnstable is a welcoming community where residents celebrate diversity. It is a community steeped in celebrating the arts, culture and history which have made the Town one of the most open minded on the Cape. Aside from the Town of Provincetown an hour east of Barnstable and one of America’s gay meccas, there is no place on the Cape which celebrates individual differences and applauds the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community more openly. A walk along the Town’s villages main streets and byways reflects the welcome, warmth and openness members of the LGBTQ community receive. Barnstable Village’s Unitarian Church of Barnstable is a Welcoming Congregation, one which actively seeks inclusion of LGBTQ people.
Being welcoming as a community translates into more radical inclusion while creating spaces honoring each and every part of our identities, backgrounds, and experiences. The Town actively strives to recognize that being inclusive of all means taking purposeful steps to expand residents’ understanding of who “we” are and how we welcome each other with welcoming and affirming statements. As a Town, the residents recognize and welcome family diversity in that some families are headed by two same sex parents as well as other caregivers. Marriages, partnerships and friendships comprising any loving people are celebrated equally just as the Town has been welcoming of people of color for generations.