Freedom to Marry Ramps Up Campaign to Pass Respect for Marriage Act


 Opens DC Office, Hires Federal Director to Lead Campaign

Press Contact:
Jackie Yodashkin
Communications Manager, Freedom to Marry

(New York, NY, March 16, 2011) – Today, as Freedom to Marry founder and President Evan Wolfson joined Members of Congress and Senators on Capitol Hill for the introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would repeal the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act,” Freedom to Marry announced the opening of a Washington, DC office and the hiring of Jo Ellen Deutsch as Federal Director to spearhead a campaign to build support for the bill and for marriage.

“Today Freedom to Marry is ramping up the campaign needed to overturn DOMA and return the federal government to its longstanding practice of honoring marriages celebrated in the states -- without a ‘gay exception,'” said Wolfson.  "Freedom to Marry's new Federal Director, Jo Deutsch, knows the importance of working across party and ideological lines to build broad, strong coalitions and has the track-record of success in advancing legislation we need in Washington, DC.  A majority of Americans now support the freedom to marry.  It is time our federal officials did, too.”

Freedom to Marry’s federal program will bring focus to the marriage discussion with DC media and policy makers, building support for the Respect for Marriage Act and the work to overturn DOMA in Congress and the courts.  Freedom to Marry will work with lobbyists and communications specialists to gain ground on Capitol Hill and in the White House and to engage the media.  Freedom to Marry will partner with groups in DC to elevate the marriage conversation while  working with advocates across the country to win district-by-district support.  

Deutsch, a veteran advocate, has spent the last 25 years working in the labor movement, leading federal legislative and electoral campaigns at the Association of Flight Attendants, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and UFCW.  Deutsch and her family, including her partner of over 28 years, Teresa, and their three children, have been featured in numerous television, print news stories, and photographic exhibits, and have testified and spoken extensively about why marriage matters to their family.   

“This is a superb choice for Freedom to Marry,” said Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).  “I’ve worked closely with Jo for many years, and know how effective she is at building coalitions and making the most persuasive case in Washington.  I am thrilled to have the chance to work with her in our efforts to ensure that everyone’s marriage is fully respected at the federal level.”  

 “With momentum for marriage on the state and federal levels, in the courts, and in the court of public opinion, this is truly the most exciting and urgent time to join Freedom to Marry in building this federal campaign,” said Deutsch. “We need to ratchet up the conversation around marriage to reflect in the Capitol the growing support for the freedom to marry around the nation.”   

DOMA, which was enacted in 1996, deprives legally married same-sex couples of federal respect for their marriage, meaning that they are denied the more than a thousand protections that the federal government accords all other married couples – including Social Security survivor benefits, tax fairness, access to health coverage, and recognition of family ties for immigration purposes.  DOMA is being challenged in several court cases around the country, and was held unconstitutional last year by a federal judge appointed by President Nixon. 


Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.