It was fifty years ago today that the Supreme Court ruled on Brown v. Board of Education. Earl Warren wrote that, when in comes to educational doctrine, separate is inherently unequal.

Today, in Massachusetts, this grand notion is applied to marriage.

In RI's Providence Sunday Journal (registration required), M. Charles Baskt writes:

As it happens, tomorrow -- May 17, 2004 -- also will mark another turning point in the nation's life: Because of rulings by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, gay marriage will become legal in the Bay State. Charlotte Whiting of the [RI] court's public information office says the overlap of dates is strictly a coincidence.
Lawmakers proceeded to ask if "civil unions" would be an acceptable substitute for marriage. On Feb. 4, the court said no:

"The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal. For no rational reason the marriage laws of the Commonwealth discriminate against a defined class; no amount of tinkering with language will eradicate that stain."

The judges said civil unions would maintain a "stigma of exclusion that the Constitution prohibits."

It's May 17th -- a great day for a Union.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan, writing in the New York Times, says it better: it's Integration Day.