Lambda Legal's Call to Action Helps Build 5th Annual Freedom to Marry Day

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Nationwide, clergy and other allies show support for equal marriage rights
February 11, 2002

(NEW YORK, Monday, February 11, 2002) — Linking Valentine’s Day and Lincoln’s birthday with the themes of love and equality, Lambda Legal and communities nationwide, including many clergy, are supporting lesbian and gay couples with celebrations of the fifth annual National Freedom to Marry Day.

On Tuesday, February 12, diverse communities from California to Maine will gather for events that call for an end to discrimination against lesbian and gay couples, who are unfairly barred from civil marriage in all 50 states.

The tragedies of September 11 have highlighted the cruelty and harm of this discrimination.

“In our hearts we were married,” said Keith Bradkowski, of Novato, California, whose partner of 11 years was a flight attendant killed in the attacks. “But in the eyes of the law, our relationship is considered second-class, and I am legally vulnerable in ways I never imagined.”

Bradkowski is one of the many survivors Lambda is assisting in the struggle for support and fair treatment in the wake of September 11.

With its continued work for equal marriage rights across the country, Lambda this year focused on urging activists to build support from clergy.

“In the history of our nation’s civil rights movements, leaders in the faith community have consistently been at the front of the march toward freedom, even while some clergy have been most aggressive in seeking to block the march,” said David S. Buckel, senior staff attorney of Lambda’s New York headquarters and Marriage Project coordinator.

“We now see clergy responding with increasing support for the freedom to marry, another step toward the day when we’ll end the government’s interference with same-sex couples who are in love and want to show their commitment to and responsibility for each other,” he said.

Along with grassroots activists, Lambda followed up on its Freedom to Marry Day “Call to Action” by obtaining endorsements from 100 religious leaders in California and 90 religious leaders and 30 congregations in New Jersey.

Many of the California clergy supporters will be featured speakers at Lambda’s Clergy for Commitment prayer gathering on February 12 at West Hollywood Presbyterian Church.

Also to mark Freedom to Marry Day, Lambda’s Western Regional Office, along with Marriage Equality California, is releasing “Roadmap To Equality,” an educational guide for marriage activists in the state.

Lambda’s Midwest Regional Office in Chicago has helped organize strolling wedding parties, a reception, and a Marriage Resolution signing on the 12th.

Further signs of the expanded support for lesbian and gay couples include a recent national poll that found over two-thirds of Americans believe lesbian and gay couples should be able to share health benefits, have access to inheritance rights, and Social Security benefits – among the hundreds of protections and responsibilities that come automatically with civil marriage. Last month, the Democratic National Committee called for allowing Social Security to protect gay families in the same way as non-gay families.

A sampling of National Freedom to Marry Day events include:

  • Los Angeles
    Valentine’s Day Domestic Partner Registration at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center, Saturday, February 9 at noon.
    Clergy for Commitment, with prominent religious leaders at West Hollywood Presbyterian Church, Tuesday, February 12 at 11 a.m.
    Celebration of Commitment, with civic leaders and the LA Gay Men’s Chorus on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Tuesday, February 12 at 7p.m.
  • Lehigh Valley, PA
    Blessing of Relationships Interfaith service and call for equality in civil marriage, Sunday, February 17 at 6 p.m.
  • Augusta, ME
    Speakout on steps of Capitol building in Augusta, Tuesday, February 12 at 3 p.m.
  • San Jose
    National Freedom to Marry Day Rally, including speeches from a San Jose police officer, clergy member, and lesbian and gay families, Tuesday, February 12 at noon.
  • Chicago
    Freedom to Marry Reception and Bake-Off, and a Marriage Resolution signing, Tuesday, February 12 at 7 p.m.
    Urging support for the freedom to marry, wedding parties in wedding dresses and tuxes stroll through several Chicago neighborhoods.
  • Hartford, CT
    The Connecticut Judiciary Committee holds a public hearing on two bills:
    “An Act Concerning Same-Gender Marriage,” would extend marriage rights to same-sex partners;
    “An Act Concerning the Applicability of Certain State Statutes to Same-Gender Partners,” is a bill to create civil unions for same-sex couples. Monday, February 11 at 11 a.m.

For further information about any of these events, please contact Lambda Legal:
New York Headquarters: 212-809-8585
Los Angeles Western Regional Office: 323-937-2728
Chicago Midwestern Regional Office: 312-663-4413

Contact: Peg Byron 212-809-8585 x 230, 888-987-1984 (pager)


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