Boston Now Offering Genderless Marriage Certificates, City Announces

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People no longer need to put their sex or gender identification on marriage licenses in Boston, Mayor Michelle Wu’s office announced Tuesday.

The city’s Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT), the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ+ Advancement, and the city’s Registry Department worked together to make the change.

The city says Boston residents can update their marriage license to omit sex or gender identification by contacting the City Registry for a new copy.

“Our fundamental charge in public service is ensuring that our services and opportunities reach everyone, and that starts with affirming and supporting constituents of all identities,” Mayor Wu said in a press release issued by her office. “Boston must continue to work to dismantle the historic inequities and injustices that persist. This update to Boston marriage licenses is a huge step in building a City that is truly inclusive, and I’m excited to see how these critical changes for accessibility at City Hall serve Bostonians.”

Here is how Wu’s office explains its decision to make this change:


Data can be a powerful tool to understand disparities and to drive equitable outcomes. However, embedding the collection of data into government programs can often have negative consequences for the people those services and programs were intended to help in the first place. The consequences can be magnified when data collection is mandatory or tied to other personally identifying information. As these are complex issues that involve trade-offs, the City expects these standards and guidelines to evolve.

Collecting the right amount of data in the right way will ensure that the City delivers services equitably and effectively to people of all gender identities while protecting privacy and safety to the best of its ability. Building on the Gender Inclusion ordinance filed by then-Councilor Wu and Councilor Liz Breadon and the amendment to the ordinance filed by Councilor Gabriela Coletta and feedback received regarding various constituent experiences, the City has created this new set of standards and guidelines that will support City workers in determining when and how they should collect gender identity information. To achieve this purpose, these guidelines and standards have four goals:

  • Define key terms City staff should understand related to gender identity
  • Help City departments determine when it is necessary and appropriate to ask constituents about their gender identity
  • Provide standard language that City departments should use when they have determined they need to ask constituents about their gender identity
  • Align the standards in the guidelines with state, federal, or other data systems that have limitations in how they record this data


The Gender Inclusion ordinance mentioned in the release is a December 2020 law that required all city forms to have a nonbinary Gender X option in addition to male and female; the city council passed it unanimously.

Julia Gutiérrez, the chief digital officer for the City of Boston, said the city made the marriage license change to be “gender-inclusive.”

“We’re committed to ensuring that all City employees and departments get the proper support to embed gender-inclusive language and practices into the way they engage with residents and ask for personal information,” Gutierrez said in the mayor’s press release. “Just as the language for talking about gender is dynamic and changes over time, we expect to regularly review and continuously improve these standards and guidelines in response to the feedback we receive.”

The mayor’s office claims that government agencies harm people by not affirming their self-prescribed identities “especially if information is collected that misrepresents who they are,” according to the written statement.

The office adds:  “At the same time, collecting information increases risks for vulnerable groups and creates barriers to participation.”

“Good government is responsive to an evolving world where everyone has access to city services in a way that feels equitable, safe, and inclusive” Mariangely Solis Cervera, chief of equity and inclusion, said in the mayor’s office’s press release. “Massachusetts was the first state to legally recognize marriage equality, but we know that the work of creating a more just world is ongoing. I am proud to be part of the City of Boston’s trajectory as a continued leader in equity, inclusion, and justice.”


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