President Obama and Vice President Biden are traveling along the same road that a majority of Americans have already traversed.
For many, the journey — moving from vague discomfort with gay relationships, to belief in some form of relationship recognition to full support of the freedom to marry — starts by seeing gay couples on television news or in the morning paper. For others it’s helped along by meeting neighbors like Chris and Juan, who are raising five children in Maryland, having built a life and home together through a shared and unshakeable belief in God.
The President has said that his own feelings on marriage for same-sex couples “are evolving.” Perhaps on a movie night at the White House, or while watching children in the mad dash of the Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn, President Obama, a devoted husband and father, understands that his gay and lesbian friends and colleagues share a basic desire to protect and care for their families.
As our President and other public leaders join so many Americans along the road to fairness, we must foster an environment that encourages us all to talk to our families, friends, colleagues and even leaders, forging common bonds with each other. These personal conversations will have a profound impact on the national, state and local efforts to move marriage forward across every part of the American family.
To promote more of these conversations, Freedom to Marry is committed to raising $10 million over the next 3 years to launch and expand a groundbreaking campaign that cuts to the heart of why marriage matters to gay families: it’s all about love and commitment. We could think of no better time to unveil Why Marriage Matters — the first-ever LGBT public education effort that provides web support, television ads, mailing pieces, videos and organizing tool kits free of charge to our national, state and local partners — than with a national ad buy on Valentine’s Day with couples sharing their stories on TV screens in living rooms across the nation.
Fundamentally, Americans understand that marriage is not about rights and benefits. It’s about love. And that’s the funny thing about love, it belongs to everybody. As Americans come to understand that gay and lesbian couples want to marry for similar reasons to them—taking care of and protecting their family — they develop a deeper understanding of what’s at stake in this debate.
Take Chris and Juan for example. For 13 years they have done the rewarding and difficult work of creating a life together. Day by day, they build on the foundation of their commitment, getting the kids off to school and themselves to work. Wondering if the gutters will need repair after a long stormy winter. They’ve done the hard work associated with marriage, but Chris and Juan are still waiting for the day they can make it official, by setting an example of love and responsibility for their children.
Americans aren’t interested in Thanksgiving Day shouting matches with friends and family. And they don’t believe that marriage is only about “equality” or “rights.” Turns out, almost everyone is an expert when it comes to marriage, and Americans know that there’s really only one reason to get married—to make a lifelong commitment to the person you love. Our Why Marriage Matters campaign presents the stories of real couples and real families, who are in it for the long haul, through thick and thin.
The President has said the arc of history on this issue is clear — and we agree. So whether we are gay or straight, each of us has a story to tell about why marriage matters. This campaign invites the President, along with everyone else, to see our stories and think it over. We’re happy to hear your questions, because the answer is always love.