Gay marriage

At the end of May, in a small ceremony in a Woburn, Mass., hotel with friends and family, Hudson men Randy Shepherd and Keith Emerson were married.

They were among the first same-sex couples in the country to be married in Massachusetts. Weeks earlier, they had traveled to Somerville (Mass.) City Hall to obtain a marriage license on the first day they became available to same-sex couples.

“This is just an affirmation of what we believe is our civil right,” Shepherd said on May 17, the same day he and Emerson obtained their license. “We are now equal to everyone else.”

A landmark ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to allow gay marriage in that state touched off a nationwide debate.

In New Hampshire, which banned same-sex marriage years ago, lawmakers in 2004 decided not to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

For Shepherd and Emerson, the Massachusetts ruling meant they were finally able to cement their commitment to one another in the same way as a heterosexual couple.

Despite their marriage, some uncertainty remains. Massachusetts left open the possibility the marriages of out-of-state couples would not be recognized.

To Emerson and Shepherd, it was more proof that gay men and women will continue to be treated differently, even though some laws are being changed.