Groups Deliver Nearly 3,000 Signatures Urging Sen. Mikulski to Sign onto Respect for Marriage Act

8/26/2011

Press Contacts:

Jackie Yodashkin, Freedom to Marry, jackie@freedomtomarry.org, 917-620-4502
 
Ana Beatriz Cholo, Courage Campaign, anabeatriz@couragecampaign.org, 312-927-4845 
 
Lisa Polyak, Equality Maryland, lisapolyak@gmail.com, 410-599-2112


(Baltimore, MD, August 26, 2011) – Today, Freedom to MarryCourage Campaign and Equality Maryland will present Senator Barbara Mikulski with nearly 3,000 signatures urging the Senator to become a cosponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

“Recent census data show nearly 17,000 same-sex couples living across the state of Maryland.  These loving, committed couples and their families are harmed every day by the denial of marriage, and by federal discrimination against the marriages they are able to celebrate across the border in the District of Columbia and six other states,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry.  “We hope that Senator Mikulski will heed the call of her constituents and join us in ending marriage discrimination at the federal level and in Maryland.”

The signatures were collected through an online campaign by the three groups.  They represent a variety of constituents from around Maryland, which will likely consider a bill that would extend the freedom to marry to committed same-sex couples in the state.  Currently, Maryland honors the marriages of same-sex couples married out of state, but those couples are still harmed by federal marriage discrimination under DOMA.  Senator Cardin has already signed on as a cosponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act.  

"The Democratic governor of Maryland, Martin O'Malley, is backing a bill to extend marriage to gay and lesbian couples next year," said Rick Jacobs, chair and founder of the 700,000-member Courage Campaign. "Surely Senator Mikulski wants to lead the effort to assure that all married people in Maryland are treated fairly, which requires repeal of DOMA."

The signatories signed onto a letter that reads:
 
We write on behalf of thousands of Maryland families who are presently denied critical protections and recognition under the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act”, or DOMA. Married same-sex couples are treated as legal strangers in the eyes of the federal government because of DOMA and excluded from the more than 1,100 federal laws in which marital status is a factor, including Social Security, immigration, and family and medical leave.
 
For the full text of the letter, click here: http://www.freedomtomarry.org/page/-/DOMAletterSenatorMikulski.pdf

"A majority of Marylanders support the right of loving and committed same-sex couples to marry -- and Maryland is poised to ensure that all married couples have their relationships legally recognized by their home state.,” said Lisa Polyak, acting chair of Equality Maryland.  “However, same-sex couples will never be equal under the law until federal restrictions are banished.  This means the so-called Defense of Marriage Act must be repealed. Sen. Mikulski's support as a co-sponsor of this bill would reflect the will of her constituents, and make clear that she stands on the side of legal equality for all citizens."

***
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.
 
Courage Campaign is a multi-issue online organizing network that empowers more than 700,000 grassroots and netroots supporters to work for progressive change and full equality in California and across the country. 

Equality Maryland is Maryland's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights group, with thousands of members across the entire state. Equality Maryland includes: a 501(c) (4) advocacy organization that lobbies in Annapolis and across the state to create equal protection under the law for LGBT Marylanders and their families; a 501(c)(3) educational foundation that works to eliminate prejudice and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity through outreach, education, research, community organizing, training and coalition building; and Equality Maryland PAC, which exists to influence elections. For more information, visit www.EqualityMaryland.org.