In 1970, a gay male couple applied for and was given a marriage license in Minnesota. The license was eventually rescinded by court order. Forty-five years later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, limiting the federal definition of marriage to consist of one man and one woman, was unconstitutional. The result was the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States. The purpose of this article is to discuss the importance of establishing the right for same-sex couples to legally marry. It outlines the benefits and costs to LGBT communities one year after the establishment of same-sex marriage in the U.S. This paper explores the limits of utilizing a rights-based approach when advocating social change. The recommendation is for LGBT individuals, communities and allies to shift tactics to adopt a capabilities approach to organizing and mobilizing people, groups, and organizations around issues of injustice. A capabilities framework addresses the complexities of individual and community needs while providing a foundation for coalition building and lasting positive social change.
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