By John Krinjak

Email: jkrinjak@abc6.com

Twitter: @johnkrinjakABC6

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) -- It's been exactly five years since the first same-sex weddings took place in cities and towns across Rhode Island.

On August 1, 2013, marriage equality officially took effect, but success in the fight for it didn't happen overnight.
 
"It took over a decade of tireless activism and LGBT people really coming out and telling their stories and sharing their families with all of Rhode Island to get us where we are today," said GLAD Executive Director Janson Wu. 

Wu says it was those real stories, from real Rhode Island couples, that won the necessary votes in the General Assembly, and changed hearts and minds across the state.

"Our greatest strengths were our families, were the same-sex couple who had been together for 30 years and had parented three children together, were the mother and father of the gay teenager who just wanted to see a world where their child could get married," said Wu. 

As it turns out, same-sex marriage was legalized in Rhode Island just shy of two years before the historic Supreme Court ruling in 2015--which allowed gay couples to get married in all 50 states.

"It's hard to believe it's been five years, both considering how much progress we've made, including winning marriage equality across the country, and how much those gains are at risk today, particularly given the national politics around LGBT rights," said Wu. 

Given President Trump's opposition to same-sex marriage and the shifting makeup of the Supreme Court, Wu and others are concerned about new laws that would hurt same-sex couples who are already married.

"So we know that one of the targets of the religious right is to make it so adoption agencies could refuse to provide services for same-sex parents," said Wu. 

That's why for many in Rhode Island's LGBTQ community, this anniversary is about looking back, looking ahead, and knowing the fight for equality is never truly over.

"What we know is that it takes time and it takes work to make progress, and it takes time and it takes work to protect that progress"

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