FTM Press Release: On Eve of Valentine’s Day, Tragic NY Case Again Shows Civil Union Does Not Work

Freedom to Marry Press Release: On Even of Valentine's Day, Tragic NY Case Again Shows 'Civil Union Does Not Work.'

Amid mounting evidence from states such as New Jersey and Vermont that the legal mechanism of "civil union" fails to protect families and falls far short of the security and clarity that come with marriage itself, a legal case arising from a New York couple's tragedy is hitting a sad milestone this Valentine's Day. "John and Conrad's tragic case is yet more evidence that relegating gay people to separate legal mechanisms outside of marriage, such as civil union, does not work to protect them and their loved ones - even in states such as New York, which honors out-of-state marriages for gay and non-gay couples alike," said Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People's Right to Marry.

Read More »

Countdown to Freedom to Marry Week 2010

Events Planned Across the Country to Celebrate Victories and
Continue the Fight

For Immediate Release:
February 2
, 2010
, New York, NY

(New York, February 2, 2010)— With the 13th annual Freedom to Marry Week, February 8-14th, just 6 days away, the number of events scheduled across the country continues to grow.

“Every year, right around President Lincoln's birthday and Valentine's Day, symbolizing equality and love, supporters of the freedom to marry take action and promote conversations about why marriage matters to American families, gay and non-gay alike," said Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People's Right to Marry. "This year, Freedom to Marry's partner organizations across the country - from Rhode Island to Washington state - are organizing Freedom to Marry Week rallies, house parties, film screenings, and lobby days. At Freedom to Marry, we will unveil an updated website and new social-media tools to serve the marriage movement and help build a majority for marriage nationwide."

Freedom to Marry Week events across the country will include:

The True Stories Project: Screenings of Inlaws and Outlaws across Washington, February 5-14, 2010
Freedom to Marry Pennsylvania
: March and Rally at the Statehouse
in Harrisburg on February 8, 2010
Equality Maryland
: Lobby Day
in Annapolis on February 9, 2010
One Iowa
: Lobby Day at the Capitol
in Des Moines on February 10, 2010
Marriage Equality Rhode Island
: Rally for Marriage Equality
in Providence on February 10, 2010
Outfront Minnesota:
Freedom to Marry Rally
in Saint Paul on February 11, 2010
Equality March Texas and Queer Liberaction
: Freedom to Marry Rally
in Dallas on February 12, 2010
Lambda Legal
: 9th Annual Freedom to Marry Reception
in Chicago on February 18, 2010

For more event listings and to learn more about Freedom to Marry Week, visit: http://www.freedomtomarry.org/get_involved/freedom_to_marry_week_2010.php

PRESS CONTACT:
Sean Eldridge
Director of Communications, Freedom to Marry

sean@freedomtomarry.org

Freedom to Marry is the gay and non-gay partnership working to win marriage equality nationwide. Launched in 2003, Freedom to Marry is headed by Evan Wolfson, nationally recognized as a central "architect of the marriage equality movement." Freedom to Marry guides and focuses this social justice movement on a nationwide level, serving as a strategy and support center for national, state, and local partners, a catalyst that drives and shapes the national debate on marriage equality, and an alliance-builder fostering support from non-gay allies.

Read More »

Statement from Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry, on the President’s State of the

President Obama Reaffirms Commitment to Ending Military's Anti-Gay Policy

“An Important Show of Support for Gay and Lesbian Americans, But Short of Addressing the Government's Discrimination Against Same-Sex Couples"

For Immediate Release:
January 27, 2010
, New York, NY

New York, January 27, 2010 - Statement by Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry following President Obama's State of the Union address to Congress:

"President Obama’s pledge to end discrimination against gay people serving in the military, repeated in tonight’s State of the Union, is an important show of support for gay and lesbian Americans as well as a boost to our national security. Unfortunately, the President failed to address the government's discrimination against same-sex couples in his speech. The President spoke about the concerns of Americans across the country, from unemployment to access to good schools and adequate healthcare. Millions of gay and lesbian Americans share these same concerns and struggles, but also bear the extra burden of exclusion from marriage and the denial of legal protection in the workplace and at home. Particularly in a time of immense economic challenges, government should not put obstacles in the path of any committed couple seeking to take care of their loved ones. Freedom to Marry calls on the President to keep his promises and ensure the stability and security of all American families by working with Congress to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, which would end the government's policy of singling out married same-sex couples for discriminatory treatment under federal law. We also urge the President to keep his repeated promises to work with Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity."

Read More »

Freedom to Marry Announces New Staff and New Capacity For Marriage Push in New Decade

Freedom to Marry Press Release
January 14, 2010


Key Leaders Join Organization to Seize the Opportunities to Achieve Nationwide Goals

In order to build on the momentum and meet the opportunities arising from a decade of unparalleled success, Freedom to Marry announces three new staff members and the creation of new capacity for marriage equality work across the country. Thalia Zepatos, a nationally recognized organizer and campaign expert, joins Freedom to Marry as Director of Public Engagement; Michael Crawford, a prominent new media voice and a leader in the District of Columbia’s fight to win the freedom to marry, joins as Director of New Media; and Sean Eldridge, a leading youth organizer for Obama for America with corporate, non-profit, and political experience, joins as Freedom to Marry’s Director of Communications.

Since its launch in 2003, Freedom to Marry has served as a key catalyst and strategist in the marriage movement, cultivating a sustained, affirmative, and collaborative approach to winning the freedom to marry while providing a transformative and consistent voice for marriage across the country. Now, following a landmark year of success in 2009, opportunities abound to grow support for equality and fairness for all, and Freedom to Marry is stepping in to new roles to make those opportunities come to life. With the help of these new staff, Freedom to Marry will provide messaging and message delivery expertise to all our partners across the country and will build and deploy an online presence that will provide Americans tools and a shared platform to support the freedom to marry, take action, and enlist others.

“Freedom to Marry was founded to adapt to the expanding needs of the marriage movement and moment, and with these hires and new capacity, we continue to provide the means of securing a majority for marriage and a path to victory,” said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People's Right to Marry. “Thalia, Michael, and Sean each bring crucial expertise, new energy, and creative talent to our evolving national campaign to win the freedom to marry, and we are honored to have them join us.”

Thalia Zepatos has thirty years’ experience as a community organizer, campaign manager, and political consultant, focusing on building political power for underrepresented communities. While serving as the Director of the Organizing & Training Department at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Zepatos played a key role in Let California Ring, a statewide public education campaign aimed at opening hearts and minds on the issue of marriage equality. For the past two years, she has been the coordinating consultant for a national coalition of gay rights organizations, where she worked with state and national leaders on winning marriage equality. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, Mike.

Michael Crawford has a wide range of experience in political advocacy, new media, and grassroots organizing. He is co-founder and co-chair of D.C. for Marriage, a grassroots group that helped to pass the D.C. marriage bill last December. Crawford’s prior experience includes serving as Associate Field Director at Human Rights Campaign, Communications Director at Energy Action Coalition, and Online Director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Crawford is currently Managing Editor of dc.bilerico.com and a member of the editorial team for www.bilerico.com, one of the top sites covering LGBT politics and culture. Crawford was named as one of The Advocate Magazine's 2009 People of the Year.

Sean Eldridge brings to Freedom to Marry a range of corporate, nonprofit, and political experience. As an early youth organizer for Obama for America, Sean served as one of the principal architects of the campaign's national student movement. Previously, he served on the Board of Directors of the Friends of GLBT Youth in Massachusetts and on the Board of Community Relations for the City of Toledo, Ohio. Sean worked for companies in Cambridge and Silicon Valley and studied at Deep Springs College, Brown, and Columbia University. Eldridge will offer the marriage movement a deep set of contacts and ability to move seamlessly between classic communications and new media opportunities.

The expansion of Freedom to Marry comes at the dawn of a new decade and follows 2009, the winningest year yet in the movement to achieve the freedom to marry for gay couples, a year which once again showed that momentum is on the side of marriage equality. Freedom to Marry’s new staff and new capacity will harness this momentum and work to continue to build and maximize it in order to keep advancing toward the freedom to marry nationwide.

Look for a new and enhanced website in February that will feature the new capacities of Freedom to Marry to support and mobilize non-gay and gay people committed to ending the exclusion from marriage and fulfilling America’s promise of liberty and justice for all.

Read More »

Washington, D.C. Council Overwhelmingly Passes Bill in Support of the Freedom to Marry

A Year of Great Advances Ends with Yet Another Step Forward & Continued Momentum into 2010

Freedom to Marry Statement
December 15, 2009

Statement by Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People's Right to Marry, following the District of Columbia City Council's second and final 11-2 vote in support of the freedom to marry:

"Today Washington, DC's elected representatives voted to end the denial of the freedom to marry in our Nation's Capital, amid the cheers of a majority of DC residents and a surge of hope and happiness from the families who will be helped, even as no one is hurt. Five of seven African-American city council members on the majority African-American council supported the freedom to marry, and Mayor Adrian Fenty, also African-American, has promised to sign the bill. Washington's home-rule vote for the freedom to marry builds on the Golden Rule, treating committed gay couples and their families as each of us wants our loved ones to be treated in a country based on liberty and justice for all."

(Link)

Read More »

Washington, D.C. Council Votes in Support of the Freedom to Marry

Freedom to Marry Press Release
December 1, 2009


Washington, D.C. Council Votes in Support of the Freedom to Marry
Look to New York and New Jersey to Continue the Momentum Toward Fairness

Statement by Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People's Right to Marry, following the District of Columbia City Council’s 11-2 vote in support of the freedom to marry, the first of two required votes:
“Today, the District of Columbia’s City Council listened to their constituents and overwhelmingly voted in support of protecting families throughout the District, the first of two votes needed by the council to end the exclusion of gay couples from marriage. A majority of voters, and families, from across New York and New Jersey now look to their representatives in the state legislature to do the right thing and vote in support of the freedom to marry. As research has shown, by voting for the freedom to marry for gay couples, legislators in these states will continue to be re-elected just as every other state legislator who has voted in support of marriage equality and ran for re-election.”

View the report: Pro-Marriage Legislators Win Elections

Read More »

Nadler, Baldwin and Polis Introduce the Respect for Marriage Act to Repeal the Defense of Marriage A

Freedom to Marry Press Release
September 15,2009


Nadler, Baldwin and Polis Introduce the Respect for Marriage Act to Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

Civil Rights advocates and LGBT Americans herald new legislation to overturn one of the nation's most discriminatory laws

“In America, we don’t have second-class citizens and we shouldn’t have second-class marriages either.” –Evan Wolfson, Freedom to Marry


Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), along with Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), with a total of 91 original co-sponsors to date, introduced the Respect for Marriage Act in the House of Representatives. This legislation would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law which discriminates against lawfully married same-sex couples.

The 13-year-old DOMA singles out legally married same-sex couples for discriminatory treatment under federal law, selectively denying them critical federal responsibilities and rights, including programs like social security that are intended to ensure the stability and security of American families.

The Respect for Marriage Act, the consensus of months of planning and organizing among the nation’s leading LGBT and civil rights stakeholders and legislators, would ensure that valid marriages are respected under federal law, providing couples with much-needed certainty that their lawful marriages will be honored under federal law and that they will have the same access to federal responsibilities and rights as all other married couples.

The Respect of Marriage Act would accomplish this by repealing DOMA in its entirety and by adopting the place-of-celebration rule recommended in the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, which embraces the common law principle that marriages that are valid in the state where they were entered into will be recognized. While this rule governs recognition of marriage for purposes of federal law, marriage recognition under state law would continue to be decided by each state.

The Respect for Marriage Act would not tell any state who can marry or how married couples must be treated for purposes of state law, and would not obligate any person, church, city or state to celebrate or license a marriage of two people of the same sex. It would merely restore the approach historically taken by states of determining, under principles of comity and Full Faith and Credit, whether to honor a couple’s marriage for purposes of state law.

Supporters of DOMA argued in 1996 that the law is necessary to promote family structures that are best for children, but every credible medical, social science and child welfare organization has concluded that same-sex couples are equal parents. Married gay and lesbian couples pay taxes, serve their communities and raise children like other couples. Their contributions and needs are no different from those of their neighbors. The Respect for Marriage Act would ensure that couples who assume the serious legal duties of marriage are treated fairly under federal law.

The introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act responds directly to a call from President Obama for Congressional action on the issue. As the President recently confirmed: “I stand by my long-standing commitment to work with Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. It’s discriminatory, it interferes with States’ rights, and it’s time we overturned it.”

Standing with the Members of Congress today were couples who have been harmed by DOMA, numerous members of the clergy, and many of the nation’s leading LGBT and civil rights organizations – including Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Freedom to Marry, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, People for the American Way, and the National Organization of Women. Also supportive of this legislation, and of this particular strategy for repealing DOMA, are the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), who are leading the litigation efforts challenging DOMA in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management.

“So-called ‘DOMA’ was a radical departure from the way federal government has treated married couples throughout most of American history. It makes more sense to respect marriages than to destabilize them. In America, we don’t have second-class citizens and we shouldn’t have second-class marriages either,” said Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People's Right to Marry.

“The full repeal of DOMA is long overdue,” said Rep. Nadler. “When DOMA was passed in 1996, its full harm may not have been apparent to all Members of Congress because same-sex couples were not yet able to marry. It was a so-called ‘defense’ against a hypothetical harm. This made it easy for our opponents to demonize gay and lesbian families. Now, in 2009, we have tens of thousands of married same-sex couples in this country, living openly, raising families and paying taxes in states that have granted them the right to marry, and it has become abundantly clear that, while the sky has not fallen on the institution of marriage, as DOMA supporters had claimed, DOMA is causing these couples concrete and lasting harm. Discrimination against committed couples and stable families is terrible federal policy. But, with a President who is committed to repealing DOMA and a broad, diverse coalition of Americans on our side, we now have a real opportunity to remove from the books this obnoxious and ugly law.”

“In support of families throughout the nation, our legislation will extend to same-sex, legally married couples the same federal rights and recognition now offered to heterosexual married couples, nothing more, nothing less,” said Rep. Baldwin, Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. “As we continually strive to form a more perfect Union, repealing DOMA is a necessary step toward full equality for LGBT Americans.”

“No one should be denied the opportunity to choose his or her spouse,” said Rep. Polis. “It is a basic human right and deeply personal decision. Throughout history, we have only moved forward when society has distinguished between traditional values and valueless traditions. The Defense of Marriage Act – DOMA – is a valueless tradition that undermines the spirit of love and commitment that couples share and sends the wrong message to society. It is time for its repeal.”

“Respecting the dignity of every human being and the people’s right to freely make decisions about their own lives is in keeping with the most sacred and fundamental principles of our democracy,” said Rep. Lewis. “That is what made the Defense of Marriage Act so wrong. From the founding of this nation, we made exceptions to this high moral mandate, and as our history shows, it has always led to the gravest injustice. Before we travel too far down the wrong path, we must right this wrong. We must repeal DOMA and put in its place federal action that restores the integrity of our democracy. Over the years, thousands have paid the price to make this a more open, inclusive society. We must not turn back. We must progress to that point where we seek to build a national community at peace with itself.”

“We must work to promote fairness, tolerance and justice for all Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation,” said Rep. Velazquez. “The Respect for Marriage Act will help to ensure that the rights provided to married couples are extended across state lines and without prejudice.”

“The so called Defense of Marriage Act is discriminatory and unfair and denies fundamental civil liberties to countless families across America,” said Rep. Lee. “Gay, lesbian and transgendered Americans deserve nothing less that equal protection under the law.”

“The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a hurtful and cynical law enacted to discriminate against loving, committed same-sex couples. It does real harm by denying thousands of lawfully-married same-sex couples the federal rights and benefits that only flow through marriage. Many of these include the protections couples turn to in times of need, like Social Security survivors’ benefits, medical leave to care for an ailing spouse and equal treatment under U.S. immigration laws. Today’s introduction of legislation to repeal DOMA is a welcome step, and as more states recognize the commitment of loving same-sex couples and their families, it's time for this law to go into the history books where it belongs,” said Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign.

“DOMA is and has always been an immoral attack on same-sex couples, our families and our fundamental humanity. This hateful law has only served to discriminate against people and belittle our nation's heralded values of freedom, fairness and justice. It is long past time to repeal DOMA, which has left a moral scar on this country. We thank Reps. Nadler, Baldwin and Polis for taking this step toward closing an ugly chapter in our country's history, and for working to ensure same-sex couples and our families are treated fairly,” said Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

“It is long past time for DOMA to go. When DOMA passed in 1996 it was a gratuitous slap in the face. But now, 13 years later, there are thousands of married same-sex couples who are hurt by this law. We've come a long way in 13 years and the federal government shouldn't be in the business of deciding that some married couples are worthy of federal respect and others are not. Married same-sex couples pay federal taxes just like everyone else and have a right to the same important benefits and protections as everyone else,” said Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director at Lambda Legal. (Link)

Read More »

Former President Bill Clinton Supports the Freedom to Marry

Freedom to Marry Press Release
July 14,2009

Former President Bill Clinton Supports the Freedom
Joins Ever-Increasing List of High Profile Political Leaders Speaking Out for Equality

Former President Bill Clinton now favors the freedom to marry. Following a speech on July 8th, the former President was asked if he supported marriage equality and he responded for the first time in the affirmative. He joins a list of other high profile political leaders including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT), former NY Senate leader Joe Bruno, Republican operatives Roger Stone and Steve Schmidt, and former Vice President Dick Cheney who have all within the past few weeks endorsed the freedom to marry.

“President Clinton’s support for the freedom to marry has evolved over time, and shows the power we each have when we talk about why marriage matters to the people we know and help them rise to fairness,” said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People's Right to Marry. “President Clinton has grappled with this question for a long time, and clearly he, like the country, has come a long way since fear and politics brought about such discriminatory measures as the so-called ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ that he signed and now has moved past.” (Link)

Read More »

U.S. Conference of Mayors Passes Resolution Supporting the Freedom to Marry

Freedom to Marry Press Release
June 15, 2009


U.S. Conference of Mayors Passes Resolution Supporting the Freedom to Marry
Mayors Across the Country Pledge to Lead the Fight Against Inequality

The U.S. Conference of Mayors today passed a resolution in support of ending the exclusion of gay couples from marriage. The resolution, titled "Equality and Civil Rights for Gay and Lesbian Americans," included support for the freedom to marry along with endorsement of federal bills such as Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, the Uniting American Families Act, and the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

“By passing this resolution, America's mayors spoke for the families they know and serve in communities across the country, and said that excluding those families from the freedom to marry must stop,” said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People's Right to Marry. “The mayors have their fingers on the pulse of the country, and their voices today said loud and clear that ending discrimination in marriage is the way to go.”

In reference to the freedom to marry, the resolution stated, “BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors supports marriage equality for same-sex couples, and the recognition and extension of full equal rights to such unions, including family and medical leave, tax equity, and insurance and retirement benefits, and opposes the enshrinement of discrimination in the federal or state constitutions.”

“The nation’s mayors are proud to take the lead in recognizing the importance of protecting all our citizens equally. It is now time for state legislatures and our federal government to enact the same protections for all our nation’s citizens,” said U.S. Conference of Mayors President Greg Nickels, Mayor of Seattle.

“The mayors' leadership reaffirms that the freedom to marry should not be partisan or political, but rather is part of the security and respect all couples who've made a commitment to care for one another and who are dealing with life's ups and downs should have, especially in these challenging economic times." said Wolfson. “Now the New York State Senate should be the next to lead the nation on the path to equality by swiftly passing the freedom to marry bill into law.”

New York's Assembly passed the marriage bill in May, and political leaders from across the state, including New York City's Independent/Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg and U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, have called on the State Senate to follow suit in the next few weeks. New York Governor David Paterson is ready to sign the bill. New Jersey also has a governor pledged to sign the state’s pending freedom to marry bill once it reaches his desk.

View the Resolution: http://www.freedomtomarry.org/pdfs/Mayors_Resolution.pdf

(Link)

Read More »

New Hampshire Becomes Sixth State to Embrace Freedom to Marry

Freedom to Marry
June 3, 2009

New Hampshire’s Governor John Lynch today signed into law a freedom to marry bill approved by the Senate and House. The state now joins Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and Maine in ending the exclusion of gay couples from marriage.

“New Hampshire has now become the third state to move past civil unions to marriage, recognizing that there is no substitute for the freedom to marry and equality for all,” said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People's Right to Marry. “And Governor Lynch has become the latest moderate elected official to move to support the freedom to marry, providing a good example to, and continuing momentum for, the legislators now considering marriage bills in states such as New York and New Jersey.”

Gay couples can apply for marriage licenses starting January 1, 2010 when the law goes into effect in New Hampshire.

“Elected officials in states such as New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont have taken in the lessons from states such as Massachusetts and countries such as Canada – where same-sex couples have been marrying for five years now without using up the marriage licenses,” said Wolfson. “As we end exclusion from marriage, families are helped and no one is hurt.”

Freedom to Marry salutes the leadership of New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition and all who worked tirelessly in the legislature and in the public to achieve equality in New Hampshire.

All eyes are now on New York and New Jersey, whose governors have pledged to sign the pending freedom to marry bills once they reach their desks. New York's Assembly passed the marriage bill in May, and political leaders from across the state, including New York City's Independent/Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg and U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, have called on the State Senate to follow suit in the next few weeks. (Link)

Read More »

 <  1 2 3 4 >