Freedom to Marry stresses communication, technology as keys to equality

By |2018-01-16T11:09:19-05:00February 5th, 2009|News|

by Jessica Carreras

“The marriage battle in Michigan has not yet really begun. People and organizations in Michigan need to claim the vocabulary of marriage as a powerful way of getting attention and introducing people to their LGBT Michigan neighbors – couples, families, their kids and loved ones – and explaining how the denial of marriage and other family protections harms real people in the community.
“Marriage is a vocabulary of love and commitment, and a great common language to explain to non-gay people in Michigan who we are and why exclusion and denial are wrong.” -Evan Wolfson, executive directors of Freedom to Marry.

This year, the Freedom to Marry organization only asks supporters to do one thing for marriage equality: talk.
The 12th annual Freedom to Marry Week will be held Feb. 8-14 in cities across the nation. This year’s theme is “7 Conversations in 7 Days,” encouraging people to begin talking openly about marriage equality and why it is important.
“The country celebrates Freedom to Marry Week as an opportunity to have a national conversation about why marriage equality matters to everyone,” elaborated Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of “Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People’s Right to Marry.” “This year’s theme promotes the single most important action everyone can take towards achieving marriage equality nationwide–having conversations with friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and anyone who will listen.”
This year, the events focus around using technology as a means to spark change – something exemplified by the battle against Proposition 8 in California.
“As Prop. 8 showed, we have to break the silence with friends, neighbors, and others around us – not just assuming they get it, but actually having the conversations about who gay people are, why marriage matters, and how we need them to speak up against second-class citizenship,” Wolfson explained. “The No on 8 campaign, and the shocked and determined response to keep fighting after the loss, showed that social networking (Web) sites and new media/online technologies can be powerful tools to help gay and non-gay people have the indispensable conversations that move people to support of the freedom to marry.
“That’s the way to win, and the only way to set the stage for the battles to come.”
The actual Freedom to Marry Day is on Feb. 12, chosen for its proximity to Valentine’s Day and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. “More than ten years ago we chose February 12 as Freedom to Marry Day, embracing Valentine’s Day to speak of love and Lincoln’s birthday to speak of equality,” said Wolfson. “Conversations about equality and love (are) what ending exclusion from marriage is all about.”
The schedule for the week covers all aspects of using technology to speak out. Feb. 8 is the YouTube Challenge, where supporters can send in videos to Freedom the Marry for a chance to win prizes. The next day, Freedom to Marry urges people to change their Facebook status or make a blog post in support of marriage equality. On Feb. 10, supporters are urged to send out e-mails to family and friends urging them to sign the marriage resolution petition to be sent to legislators.
The rest of the week includes events to have face-to-face conversations, send text messages, wear or post buttons of support and write letters to local newspapers.
The schedule is not set in stone, but more of a set of guidelines for those who don’t know how to get involved. Other options include peaceful marches, sending letters to Congress, or holding educational workshops in the community.
Wolfson stressed that these endeavors are more important than ever in states like Michigan, where there are very limited rights for same-sex couples. “The marriage battle in Michigan has not yet really begun,” he said. “People and organizations in Michigan need to claim the vocabulary of marriage as a powerful way of getting attention and introducing people to their LGBT Michigan neighbors – couples, families, their kids and loved ones – and explaining how the denial of marriage and other family protections harms real people in the community.
“Marriage is a vocabulary of love and commitment, and a great common language to explain to non-gay people in Michigan who we are and why exclusion and denial are wrong.”
However, Wolfson also added that the largest battles for same-sex marriage would be fought in states close to achieving equality; states where winning equal rights could mean a turn of events for the entire nation.
Wolfson named three priorities for the year – some statewide, and others national. First, he said, winning marriage in states on the brink of inclusion is imperative, including Vermont, New York, New Jersey and, of course, California. Also on the top of the list is repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and, on a local level, to continue having the conversations that are stressed in Freedom to Marry Week.
With a new administration in office, and hope permeating the thoughts of all, Wolfson believes that full equality is closer than some may think. “If we do our work right, full nationwide marriage equality is within our reach in 10-15 years, give or take,” he said. “But it won’t win itself. The more we talk with non-gay people now…the sooner we will rack up more wins, and wins build wins everywhere. If we could achieve all that we have achieved during the atrocious (government) administration of the past eight years, imagine what we can do in the new era.”

For more information, visit http://www.freedomtomarry.org

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BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.