Freedom to Marry launches national TV ad declaring “It’s time” for marriage

Beginning on Sunday, a new national television advertisement released by Freedom to Marry will begin airing on Sunday morning network news shows in Washington, D.C.

The 30-second spot, which will later be broadcast on cable news programs next week, declares, "It's time" for the freedom to marry and tells the stories of same-sex couples and their families in 31 states who are harmed by the denial of the freedom to marry. The spot highlights the tangible harms of this denial and underscores the urgency of national resolution on the question of whether same-sex couples can marry as soon as soon as possible.

The ad says:

One nation, indivisible – except if you’re gay. In 19 states, gay couples and their children share in the protections that only the freedom to marry provides. In the others, they are banned from marrying. They’re taxed unfairly, denied Social Security and parenting rights, and can lose a family home when their loved one dies. Every day of denial means real harms to real families. It’s time to end marriage discrimination.

Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson said today:

The ad underscores the human costs of prolonging marriage discrimination. Every day of denial is a day of real and needless injury, indignity, and injustice for too many families across the country - and time matters. America is ready for the freedom to marry, 40 lower court rulings have affirmed the freedom to marry, even opponents are saying it's time to bring the country to national resolution - and it is, indeed, time.

The United States Supreme Court has its first chance to hear a marriage case on Monday, September 29, at its first conference after summer recess. Read about the five cases seeking certiorari at the Supreme Court here.

The ad hones in on some of the specific harms that the denial of marriage causes for same-sex couples. They include:

  • Unfair Taxation: Married same-sex couples living in states with the freedom to marry can file their taxes together, but married couples living in states that do not respect their marriage can only file their taxes jointly federally; they must file their state taxes separately, forcing them to lie on their legal documents. Check out a video featuring one couple, Meg and Sarah in North Carolina, who discuss the ways that same-sex couples feel the strain of denial on Tax Day. 
  • Denial of Social Security: While married same-sex couples living in states with the freedom to marry can access Social Security in the same way that different-sex couples can, married same-sex couples living in the 31 states without the freedom to marry cannot fairly access Social Security. A federal statute bars the Social Security Administration from adopting a "place of celebration" rule on marriage, so if one spouse living in a non-marriage state were to pass away, they could not transfer their Social Security benefit to the surviving spouse. Couples like Doug and Sandy, who have been together in North Carolina for more than 13 years, are unfairly restricted from this fundamental protection of marriage. The men explained earlier this year, ""Being an older married gay couple, we have different concerns from our younger peers and social security is at the top of the list. In order to receive Social Security benefits, we would be required to move to a state where our marriage is recognized. I would have to give up my job of 23 years. We would have to leave behind our 4 grown children and 4 grandchildren. We would have to leave behind my 91-year-old mother. We would have leave behind our church, our friends and our home."
  • Parenting Rights: All states explicitly permit single people to petition to adopt, and all states explicitly permit married couples to petition to jointly adopt. But in states where same-sex couples cannot marry or their marriages are not respected, same-sex couples are often denied the ability to jointly adopt. For example, Jamie Cunningham & Courtney Seals are raising their young daughter Sophia in Tennessee, but because they cannot marry, Courtney has no legal relationship with her daughter. If something were to happen to Jamie, Courtney would have no legal custody of her own daughter. 
  • Loss of Home: For couples where one spouse has passed away, the widow or widower is unable to access Social Security benefits (or, in the case of veterans, Veterans Affairs benefits) that are typically extended when a spouse dies. This can impose an enormous financial burden on the surviving spouse, sometimes resulting in them facing an inability to pay their mortgage payments. One example is Fred McQuire and George Martine, a couple in Arizona, married in California, where George, a veteran, passed away. George's Social Security payments were higher, and the VA benefit was essential to the couple being able to pay their mortgage. Without these protections, and unable to access them since Arizona did not respect their marriage, Fred would have been unable to pay the mortgage payments and lost the home.

Thanks to all of the families featured in the video. Special thanks to Barbara B. Proud at First Comes Love, Catalina Kulczar at Let Love Reign, Mitch Kitter and Shalem Mathew at the Love is Love Project, and photographers Lauren Lindley, 2 Dads + 4 Kids, Familia Roots Photography