Freedom to Marry’s Sean Eldridge in Maryland: ‘The time to pass this legislation is now’

Remarks by Sean Eldridge, Political Director ofFreedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage nationwide:

"Gay and lesbian couples want to get married for the same reasons as everyone else.  At the end of the day, this is about loving couples who have committed to spending their lives together, who take care of each other through good times and bad, who crave the personal significance and respect of marriage, and who need the critical safety net of protections and responsibilities that come only with marriage.

"Same-sex couples are now free to marry in five states and next door in the District of Columbia, as well as a dozen countries worldwide.  And in each of these places, the sky has not fallen, and families have been helped, with no one hurt.  Because there is no good reason to continue excluding same-sex couples from marriage, Freedom to Marry supports the work of our Maryland partners to pass the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act into law

"As President Obama and Vice President Biden both recently acknowledged, the “arc of history” on this issue is clear – the freedom to marry for same-sex couples is coming. 

"But the question of when it comes is an important one.

"Every year that goes by, same-sex couples in Maryland are harmed by being excluded from marriage.  They’re harmed when they have to turn to their children and explain why they can’t get married like everyone else.  And they’re harmed when they try to protect their families, and the government stands in their way.  Particularly in these tough economic times, government should not be standing in the way of those who are working to protect and take care of their families.

"Equally important, every year that goes by, another generation of young gay and lesbian citizens come of age in a society that tells them “You’re not equal.  You cannot grow up to marry the person that you love.  And you don’t deserve the same respect and the same treatment as everyone else.”  We’ve seen the tragic consequences of this year-after-year, with the bullying, suicides, and homelessness that disproportionately plague young gay and lesbian citizens.

"And, finally, every year that goes by, all citizens of Maryland who believe in our nation’s promise of fairness and equal protection under the law, are harmed by knowing that their state and their elected officials are not living up to that promise.

"It’s time for all of us to live up to that promise.  The time to pass this legislation is now.  And the leaders gathered here today are the ones to do it.  Let’s not let another year go by."