Angela Dallara, Freedom to Marry, Angela@freedomtomarry.org, 646-430-3925
Ana Beatriz Cholo, Courage Campaign, firstname.lastname@example.org, 312-927-4845
Ali Vander Zanden, EqualityMaine, email@example.com, 207-590-2299
Shenna Bellows, American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, firstname.lastname@example.org, 207-776-5404
Carisa Cunningham, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, email@example.com, 617-426-1350
(Washington D.C., December 13, 2011) – Today, six state and national organizations delivered more than 2,000 signatures urging Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to become the 32nd sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, the bill that would repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The groups collected the signatures through an online campaign, part of an ongoing effort to increase the numbers of cosponsors of the Respect for Marriage Act in Congress.
The organizations, which include Freedom to Marry, Courage Campaign, EqualityMaine, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, and the Maine Women’s Lobby, released the following joint statement:
“Senator Collins has served often as a voice for gay and lesbian people throughout her time in office, but she has yet to join 31 of her fellow Senators as a cosponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act. Thousands of loving and committed gay and lesbian couples reside in Maine—many of whom are legally married and need Senator Collins’ support now more than ever to ensure the crucial safety-net of protections that come with federal recognition of their marriage. We urge her to listen to her constituents and stand up for Maine families by supporting the Respect for Marriage Act.”
The letters were delivered personally on Tuesday to Senator Collins’ office in Portland by gay and lesbian couples who reside in the state and are harmed by DOMA. Joseph Stackpole, 67, and his partner Richard, 69, have been together for 15 years and reside in Old Orchard Beach. Nicole and Nancy Jedrey-Irvin live with their ten-year-old son Carter in Durham. Both couples were legally married in Massachusetts. Suzanne Blackburn and her partner Joanie live in Maine and have a domestic partnership, but are waiting to get married until they can do so in Maine. Joseph, Nicole, Nancy, and Suzanne all participated in delivering the letters and meeting with staff members of Senator Collins’ office.
Senator Collins voted against constitutional amendments in 2004 and 2006 that would have banned marriages for gay and lesbian couples. Last year, she and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) sponsored the bill that repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which prevented gay and lesbian people from openly serving in the military. Just last month, she and Senator Lieberman reintroduced the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, which would ensure benefits to domestic partners of federal employees. She has been honored by the Log Cabin Republicans and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund in the past for her commitment to equality for gay and lesbian people.
Currently, there are a record number of supporters in both the House, where the bill has 134 sponsors, and in the Senate, with 31 sponsors, including every Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which voted in November to advance the Respect for Marriage Act to the full Senate.
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.
EqualityMaine works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in Maine through political action, education, and collaboration.
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders is New England's leading legal organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity and expression.
The Maine Women’s Lobby is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, membership organization working since 1978 to increase opportunities for women and girls through advocacy and legislative action.