Guest Blogger: Megan Kinninger

Sometimes I feel like my brain has been donated to the marriage equality movement. I’m the human archive, a fact-finder, a researcher, a tracker, of all things concerning marriage equality. My archived subjects include the history of the movement, the current landscape, the players, the supporters, the strategies, and so much more.

I’m fully equipped for cocktail party discussions about which states are working toward equality, Thanksgiving debates over why civil unions are NOT equal to marriage, wedding toasts about why marriage is such an important freedom, and of course, calls from reporters.

So when I get phone calls from reporters, they usually ask for background information. Here’s my cheat sheet, the top 7 answers to reporter’s questions:

  1. 14 states have at least some kind of protections for gay couples: 2 states uphold the freedom to marry for gay couples, 3 honor out-of-state marriages, 4 have civil unions or broad domestic partnership, and 5 have some protections for gay couples.
  2. 2 states have cases pending to end the exclusion of gay couples from marriage.
  3. 33% of the American population live in a state with at least some protections for gay couples.
  4. 12 states are introducing marriage equality bills in 2009.
  5. Six in 10 Americans (63%) say the government should not regulate whether gays and lesbians can marry the people they choose.
  6. Since 2005, no legislator who voted for a marriage equality bill or against an anti-gay amendment lost re-election because of their vote.
  7. Civil unions or domestic partnerships are NOT equal to marriage and we have the facts to show it here.

But of course the facts about the landscape aren’t enough. It’s exciting to talk about the progress we are making and build momentum for success, but there is clearly so much more to accomplish—only two states actually uphold the freedom to marry for gay couples. So I talk about the need for marriage equality, and the personal stories these numbers represent. How all families deserve the dignity and respect that marriage provides.

These real and personal connections are the news hook for the media, and the best way to talk to friends and family, too. As I always tell my mom, who finds herself debating with friends and family about my need for equality and asks, “How do I really change their mind?” I respond, “Tell them why you want me to be able to get married, how your daughter deserves equality just like everyone else. Make it personal. Make ‘em cry.”

The next time you have a chance to talk to a reporter, or even just a neighbor or a friend, about why marriage equality matters to you, reference my cheat sheet for the facts, and then add your heart, your personal story, and don’t be afraid to make ‘em cry.

*** Megan Kinninger is program manager at Freedom to Marry and native of Watsonville, California.