We’re Just Like You

August 13, 2009

by Patricia Montley and Sally Wall
The Baltimore Sun

It’s time for Maryland to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions

This summer we celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. Wood – sturdy and beautiful. Natural. We gave each other lovely jewelry boxes crafted by an artisan whose work we had long admired. A meaningful but private celebration – just like our wedding had to be.

You see, we were married in Canada. Not because we were rebellious young people who eloped because our parents disapproved (though they did). But because our own country would not legally recognize our relationship, which had by then already lasted 25 years.

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Albanian LGBT Community Welcomes PM’s Same-Sex Marriage Plan

August 13, 2009

TIRANA (Reuters) – Albania’s homosexuals won more than they had hoped for after the government said it planned to allow same-sex marriages despite opposition from religious leaders and politicians.

The proposal put forward by Prime Minister Sali Berisha on Thursday faces a tough fight in parliament.

But should he make good on his plans, Albania would join European Union members The Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain in giving gay couples the same rights as heterosexual couples and would be the first country in the Balkans to do so.

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Maine is Now Ground Zero

August 13, 2009

Maine’s Freedom to Marry Coalition, created by the state’s grassroots, had recently refashioned itself into the NO on 1 Campaign/Protect Maine Equality to battle the impending November referendum that would strip gays and lesbians of their newly won right to marry.

Now, they have relaunched their website, making sure that anyone who stops by will know how to vote this November.

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Call to Action in California – How to Win Marriage Back

August 13, 2009

By Evan Wolfson | Executive Director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People’s Right to Marry

As someone 100% committed to winning the freedom to marry nationwide as soon as possible, I am very excited by Equality California’s report on the work already underway to restore the freedom to marry in California in 2012. To win marriage back, we have a lot to do, using every precious day between now and the election. EQCA’s roadmap to victory in 2012 offers everyone committed to winning marriage back a chance to pull together and tackle the tasks without wasting a moment.

Winning marriage back is not just about getting a measure on the ballot. It’s about enough conversations enough times over enough time to move hearts and minds. It’s about organizing that empowers diverse messengers to speak to the people and win over a slice of voters in their circles and communities. It’s building a campaign that is strategic, smart, and run with the right combination of expertise, efficiency, transparency, and buy-in. It’s raising the money, early and ongoing, to support and sustain these efforts over the needed time before the vote; and persuading people, as we began doing in the Let California Ring public education effort, to think anew about how the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage hurts families and helps no one.

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SF Chronicle and Mark Leno Support EQCA’s Prop 8 Recommendation

August 13, 2009

It’s regrettable that the restoration of marriage rights to gays and lesbians has to be subject to strategic political calculation. But it’s also hard to argue with the conclusion reached by Equality California, the state’s largest gay-rights group, that the repeal of Proposition 8 would have a better chance in 2012 than in 2010.

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Utah Newspaper Refuses Gay Couple’s Wedding Announcement

August 13, 2009

Spencer Jones and Tyler Barrick were married at San Francisco City Hall on June 17, 2008. The couple rushed to get married on the first day California gay couples were legally allowed to do so – and were lucky enough to have their marriage upheld by the California Supreme Court post Proposition 8.

Jones and Barrick planned to return to their hometown in Southern Utah on August 22, 2009 to have their formal wedding reception with their family and friends.

Like any other happy couple, they planned to announce their reception in their local paper – both to celebrate their happiness and to make sure all their friends knew where to celebrate with them.

But, their hometown paper, The Spectrum, in St. George, Utah rejected their ad.

At first, the paper said they could run the announcement in the “celebrations” section of the paper – but only if there was no picture.

Jones and Barrick objected to being told their picture would be excluded, and in response president and publisher Donnie Welch decided that no announcement would run at all. He told the couple, “As our policy is to run marriage announcements recognized by Utah Law, I have made the decision to not run this announcement.”

Jones has also contacted the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national LGBT legal organization, to alert them to this incident. Executive Director Kate Kendell made a statement that “NCLR is very disturbed and disappointed to hear about the treatment that Spencer and Tyler experienced. No family or couple should be made to feel like their relationship is somehow of a lesser status simply because of their sexual orientation.” Both GLAAD and NCLR will continue to keep a close eye on the situation as it develops.

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Within Reach

August 13, 2009

This year we have seen unprecedented movement on LGBT issues in the 111th Congress with long overdue legislation pending in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Today, more than ever before, federal bills provide an opportunity to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people nationwide. From the Uniting American Families Act to the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, NCLR is working to ensure that all members of the LGBT community will be included in federal protections.

But it will take all of us to pass this legislation. With the August congressional recess before us, it is the perfect time to schedule meetings with your Representatives and Senators while they are at home in their districts. We know nothing is more effective at moving individual members of Congress than hearing the voices of constituents. Congressional action to end discrimination against our community is long overdue. We must not let this opportunity pass! Even if you have never done so before, I urge you to schedule meetings, make phone calls, and send letters and emails asking Congress to support legislation that protects LGBT people.

We need to hold their feet to the fire, and it will require our entire community to engage with our federal elected officials in order to see change in Congress. Right now, we have the potential to see these three bills reach President Obama’s desk, and he has committed to signing them. It is time for us to unite, to be visible and vocal, and demonstrate that our community deserves the same protections and equality as the rest of the nation. We have accepted our second-class status for far too long. We owe it to ourselves and to future generations of LGBT people to demand that our federal representatives take meaningful steps to end blatant government discrimination against our families.

This is why NCLR is committed to engaging not only in litigation, but also in public education and public advocacy for changes in federal law. We play a distinct but vital role in the arena of federal advocacy, especially in working to ensure that those most vulnerable are included. NCLR has two of our most seasoned attorneys, as well as a full-time ENDA organizer, based in our Washington, D.C. office. We have a long history of being involved in federal legislation—as advisors, policy experts, witnesses, and authors. NCLR is committed to bringing our unique point of view and cutting edge legal expertise directly to lawmakers. We will continue to have the conversations that need to take place. We will continue to be instrumental in building and maintaining coalitions. We will invest the necessary resources to take advantage of the opportunities within reach.

The time is now, my friends. We must be our own fierce advocates.

In solidarity,