Religious Leaders Affirm Their Support for Gay People's Freedom to Marry

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Interfaith program and news conference to be held on National Freedom to Marry Day
February 7, 2001

(CHICAGO, February 7, 2001) With Valentine's Day approaching, many couples are celebrating their special relationships, and take for granted their freedom to marry. But lesbian and gay couples, despite great advances, still are barred from civil marriage, its social recognition, as well as hundreds of legal protections.

Seeking to end that inequity, religious and community leaders are joining together in Chicago to support same-sex couples on National Freedom to Marry Day on Monday, February 12, said Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Chicago's interfaith program will take place at noon at the John Marshall Law School, with a public signing of the Marriage Resolution immediately followed by a news conference. Later that evening, at the First Unitarian Church of Chicago, the group of religious leaders will hold a service at 7:00 p.m. for same-sex couples reaffirming their commitment vows, followed by a reception and fellowship at 8:15 p.m.

Participants will include Mayor Daley's liaison to the lesbian and gay community, Bill Greaves, state and local representatives, the Rev. Gregory Dell, and same-sex couples who want to marry.

Beginning this weekend and continuing through Valentine's Day, dozens of events will take place around the country to mark National Freedom to Marry Day, including rallies in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Seattle, Boston, and Minneapolis. This year's fourth annual National Freedom to Marry Day links the themes of love and equality, evoking Valentine's Day and Lincoln's Birthday in a call to end discrimination in civil marriage.

"Religious leaders long have been at the forefront of the fight for civil rights, including legal recognition for lesbian and gay civil marriages," said Lambda Marriage Project Director Evan Wolfson. "Same-sex couples should have access to the same protections, recognitions, and responsibilities under the law as afforded non-gay couples who exchange marriage vows," he said.

Added Lambda Midwest Regional Director Matthew W. Roberts, "Leaders from a range of institutions believe that we should have the freedom to marry. Two-thirds of the public believes that we will eventually win the freedom to marry, and Vermont has paved the way with civil unions. Hopefully lesbian and gay couples soon will be able to celebrate National Freedom to Marry Day with marriage licenses in their hands."

Headquartered in New York and with regional offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Atlanta, Lambda is the nation's oldest and largest legal organization dedicated to lesbians, gay men, and people with HIV/AIDS.

WHAT: Interfaith program and news conference for National Freedom to Marry Day WHO: Dozens of religious and community leaders, including Rev. Greg Dell of Broadway United Methodist Church, The Chicago Theological Seminary, First UMC of Chicago at The Chicago Temple, Dignity/Chicago, Congregation Or Chadash, Grace Baptist Church, and Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church (list in formation). WHERE: The John Marshall Law School, 315 South Plymouth Court, Room #1200 WHEN: Monday, February 12, 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Contact: RoiAnn Phillips 312-663-4413 x 27
Matthew Roberts 312-663-4413 x 31


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