Third Annual National Freedom to Marry Day in Cities Nationwide

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February 8, 2000

(NEW YORK, February 8, 2000) — Some 30 events will mark National Freedom to Marry Day in cities and towns around the country, with supporters of lesbian and gay families gathering for symbolic weddings, marches and rallies, from Memphis and Tucson to Boston and Fort Collins, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund announced Tuesday.

In Chicago, to highlight Vermont’s recent court order for the state to end discrimination against same-sex couples, volunteers from Lambda’s Midwest Regional Office will head to a number of shopping malls to distribute bottles of Vermont maple syrup. Other events are scheduled in Sitka, Alaska, Washington, D.C., San Antonio, Seattle, and more. (See list.)

National Freedom to Marry Day is Saturday, February 12, linking the themes of love and equality for Valentine’s Day and Lincoln’s Birthday.

Said Lambda Marriage Project Director Evan Wolfson, “There is more reason than ever to celebrate this year, with Vermont poised to set an example of equality for the rest of the country. As a result of last December’s state supreme court ruling, Vermont’s legislature at this very moment is deliberating on just how equality will be achieved. The lesson for the country is that gay couples and our families need the same protections and opportunities as non-gay couples to take care of their loved ones in times of crisis.”

He said, “We hope this will be the last year that lesbian and gay couples have to mark Freedom to Marry Day without their marriage licenses in hand.”

Lambda MRO Regional Director Matthew Roberts noted, “In Illinois, we hear the resounding message of equality especially at this time of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. In this spirit and as gay and non-gay couples both celebrate Valentine’s Day, we hope to sweeten people’s hearts for ending discrimination against our families.”

Lambda litigated the groundbreaking case in Hawaii, Baehr v. Anderson, that sparked the national discussion of marriage for gay couples, served as a friend of the court in the Vermont case, Baker v. State, and leads the National Freedom to Marry Coalition.

Coming at a crucial time, National Freedom to Marry Day precedes by just weeks a March 7 vote in California on the anti-gay Proposition 22, the “Limit on Marriages” initiative, also known as the “Knight Initiative.” If passed, it would restrict California’s recognition of some out-of-state marriages, and would create a potentially dangerous weapon for attacking basic protections for gay couples.

Said Lambda Managing Attorney Jennifer Pizer in Los Angeles, “Looking beyond National Freedom to Marry Day, we invite everyone to stand with us against this unfair and divisive attempt to spread discrimination. Marriage is supposed to protect families. Ballot measures like the Knight Initiative do nothing positive for California families – they only serve to divide us.”

Wolfson added, “Winning the freedom to marry depends especially on the support of our non-gay friends, relatives, co-workers, and neighbors. Just a few years ago, we faced cold public opposition. But now the majority of Americans believes that lesbian and gay couples will win the freedom to marry. The momentum is definitely in the direction of fairness and equality.”

This year’s National Freedom to Marry Day features a diverse lineup of speakers, clergy and events in cities across the country. Highlights include:

  • Boston: Clergy from the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry get an update on the year’s legal advances from Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) before addressing the Cathedral Church of St. Paul. The next day, supporters of freedom to marry celebrate at a Valentine’s Eve Gala.

  • Chicago: Lambda volunteers distribute bottles of Vermont maple syrup with heart-shaped messages asking for help to win the freedom to marry.

  • Philadelphia: Hosted by City of Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, lesbian and gay domestic partners gather for a re-commitment ceremony.

  • Fort Collins, Colorado: Supporters of the freedom to marry march to Old Town Square to rally with leaders from religious communities.

  • Memphis: Members of Memphis Lesbian and Gay Coalition for Justice conduct a symbolic wedding ceremony for same-sex couples.

  • Seattle: Legal Marriage Alliance of Washington holds a dinner-dance along with the Seattle Gay Culture Center.

  • San Francisco: Engaging public speaker E.J. Graff provides insights into the political history of marriage and argues that same-sex couples should have access to civil marriage.

  • Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Employees host speakers from the Human Rights Campaign.

  • San Antonio: The San Antonio Public Library displays throughout the month educational materials and books relevant to the freedom to marry.

  • Tucson: Community leaders, youth, and activists gather for a “Holy Commitment Ceremony” and reception. Desert Voices Choir also performs.

  • California: As part of statewide “Solidarity Sabbath,” many churches, temples, synagogues, and fellowships host special services to show opposition to the divisive intent of the anti-gay ballot initiative “Limit on Marriages,” also known as the Knight Initiative.

  • Lock Haven, Pennsylvania: Outspoken gay couple Jon and Michael Galluccio talk about their relationship and three children at Lock Haven University.

  • New York City: Members of Marriage Equality New York host a discussion on how civil marriage for same-sex couples will affect people of color and their families.

  • Detroit, Michigan: The Lighthouse Evangel Tabernacle and the National Gay Pentecostal Alliance hold church service that promotes marriage between any two people who are committed to each other.

  • Sitka, Alaska: P-FLAG and the Unitarian Fellowship sponsor commitment and re-commitment ceremonies for everyone.

  • Norwich, Vermont: The Unitarian Universalist Congregation and the Task Force on the Freedom to Marry sponsor an educational forum on the freedom to marry.

CONTACT: Peg Byron 212-809-8585 x 230, 888-987-1984 (pager), T.J. Tu 212-809-8585 x 222 or 888-987-1971 (pager), or Joneil Adriano 212-809-8585, ext. 241


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