It wasn’t until June 26, 2015, two years after “Same Love feat. Mary Lambert” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis was released in 2013, that gay marriage was legalized in all 50 states.

Today, it’s hard to remember the hardships that the LGBTQ+ community endured to achieve this right. I wasn’t aware of how much people opposed same-sex marriage until I looked at an actual timeline of gay rights. Until 2003, every state recognized marriage as an act reserved for a man and a woman. It wasn’t only the church that opposed gay marriage, but the government openly did also. This isn’t something I was completely aware of. In November 2003, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. President Bush pushed for a constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. From here, states started showing support for same-sex marriage but were still met with opposition by a lot of conservatives and church representatives, including Pope John Paul in 2005. President Obama endorsed same-sex marriage throughout his time as president, but it wasn’t until 2015 that everyone was allowed to marry whoever they want. It is hard for me to grasp the fact that people were not always allowed to marry the people they love.

Screenshot from the “Same Love” music video

“Same Love” was released in the midst of numerous states jumping on the bandwagon of legalizing same-sex marriage, which is important context for the song. Of course, as is apparent in the timeline of gay rights, this community struggled long before the song’s release and continues to struggle today, but 2013 was a time of protest, as the issue was at the forefront of politics and American culture alike.

As I mentioned in my proposal, Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, and Mary Lambert don’t make it a secret that the song is about same-sex marriage. They overtly call out the government and the church. Macklemore sings, “The right-wing conservatives think it’s a decision.” This is in reference to the government’s intervention in the matter of same-sex marriage and the conservative battle to ban it completely. The church is mentioned multiple times, but the first time it’s brought up, he sings, “And God loves all his children it’s somehow forgotten / But we paraphrase a book written 3,500 hundred years ago.” I picked out this line, because this is why I, as a person of a Catholic upbringing, struggle with the Catholic church; we’re taught to love everyone, but only if they fit in with our ideals. And why is heterosexual marriage considered part of our ideals? It is a problematic institution, and these artists call it out multiple times.

I think “Same Love” does a good job of highlighting the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community, because they draw on the emotional experiences of this community in dealing with their identities, along with the legal ramifications they face. They are bullied not only by random people, but also by the government and the church, institutions that they should be able to trust and rely on. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way, but as Macklemore says in this song, we still have a long way to go.