Gay Couples, Clergy, Politicians Join for National Freedom to Marry Day

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February 12 links themes of "love' and "equality'
February 7, 2001

(NEW YORK, February 7, 2001) — In over a dozen cities and towns around the country, religious clergy members and other community leaders are planning to mark National Freedom to Marry Day by calling on the public to support the right of same-sex couples to marry, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund said Wednesday.

In Chicago, couples who want the freedom to marry are joing with religious and community leaders in an interfaith program and news conference. Across California, lesbian and gay families and their allies will rally at local marriage license bureaus in San Francisco, Eureka, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. And from Fort Collins, Colorado, to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, New York, and Boston, a range of celebrations, protests, and outreach actions are planned.

National Freedom to Marry Day is Monday, February 12, linking the themes of love and equality as exemplified by Valentine’s Day and Lincoln’s Birthday to call for an end to discrimination in marriage.

Lambda Marriage Project Director Evan Wolfson said, “With civil unions in Vermont, thousands of American businesses providing partner benefits, and the steady growth in support from non-gay clergy, youth, and civic groups, the American people have awakened to the reality that lesbian and gay people deserve and want protections and respect for our families. Central to that awareness is the ongoing national discussion about ending discrimination in civil marriage – and person to person, group to group, state to state, we are asking non-gay people to join the civil rights work.”

He noted that hundreds of clergy, political leaders, and celebrities – such as Rep. John Lewis and Coretta Scott King – already have signed the Marriage Resolution, which calls for allowing same-sex couples to take on the commitment of civil marriage.

“Even Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman in the recent vice presidential debate acknowledged that they personally are more and more ‘open’ to the question of equality in civil marriage. As polls show, Americans are ready to support this advance,” Wolfson added, noting the NBC/Wall Street Journal finding that two-thirds of the public believe inevitably same-sex couples will win the freedom to marry.

Lambda Legal Director Ruth E. Harlow noted, “All people who love each another and want to share their lives together deserve the same opportunity and choice to have that commitment recognized through civil marriage protections. What National Freedom to Marry Day signifies is a desire for all couples simply to be treated equally by law – nothing more, and nothing less.”

Among events recognizing this year’s National Freedom to Marry Day are:

Chicago, Feb. 12: News conference with dozens of religious and community leaders signing the Marriage Resolution and, later that evening, an interfaith program features the Rev. Gregory Dell.

Ellensburg, Washington, Feb. 12: With wedding dresses and tuxedos, wedding demonstration staged by Central Washington University students, joined by University president and a board member join in. forum that follows with the Rev. Jane Newall.

Fort Collins, Colorado, Feb. 12: Supporters of freedom to marry march to Old Town Square to rally with leaders from diverse religious communities.

Minneapolis, Feb. 12: Wedding cake celebration for signers of the Marriage Resolution, including religious leaders, public officials, and community organizations, at Ruby's Cafe on Loring Park.

San Jose, Feb. 12: “Speak Out for Our Children’s Future” with clergy and wedding cake, sponsored by Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gay Men; includes litany of marriage protections, Recorder's office of Santa Clara County.

Philadephia, Feb. 12 & 14: University of Pennsylvania photo exhibit of commitment ceremonies with personal stories on Feb. 12. At La Salle University on Feb. 14, commitment ceremony in honor of Freedom to Marry Day.
Pre- and Post-National Freedom to Marry Day Celebrations and Actions:
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Feb. 9: News conference and Ecumenical Blessing of Relationships at Unitarian-Universalist Church.

New York, Feb. 9: “I do! in 2002!” Public Marriage Resolution signing ceremony on steps of New York City Hall with public officials, lesbian and gay activists and allies.

Boston, Feb. 11: “Love is in the Air,” an elegant Freedom to Marry Day’s Eve celebration.

Sitka, Alaska, Feb. 11: Pot luck dinner to celebrate the Freedom to Marry at the Unitarian Fellowship.

Dayton, Ohio, Feb. 13: Showing of the documentary “The Right to Marry” at Eternal Joy MCC.

Los Angeles, Feb. 14: Rally for the freedom to marry at Municipal Courthouse, Beverly Hills.

San Francisco, Feb. 14: Rally for the freedom to marry at San Francisco City Hall; speakers to include Tom Ammiano, President of the San Francisco City Council, and Mike Marshall from the NO on 22 campaign.

Eureka, California, Feb. 14: Rally in support of the freedom to marry at the Humboldt County Vital Records Office.

Sacramento, Feb. 14: Rally in support of the freedom to marry at County Recorder's marriage license office.

Providence: Legislation to end discrimination in civil marriage, recently introduced in Rhode Island. Hearings on legislation being submitted by State Rep. Michael Pisaturo (D-Cranston) will be at the beginning of March in the Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee.
More events, details on the above events and other late-breaking NFMD news can be found on our website: Actions, Events and Forums for NFMD 2001

CONTACT: Peg Byron 212-809-8585 or 888-987-1984 (pager)
Evan Wolfson 212-809-8585 ext. 205


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