Marriage equality becomes reality in Massachusetts
The celebration of gay marriage rights began at the city hall in Cambridge, Massachusetts on the evening of May 16 with cakes, choruses, and flowers galore. At the stroke of midnight local residents Marcia Hams, 57, and Susan Shepherd, 52, began to fill out their application to become the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in Massachusetts. They have been together for 27 years.
Tanya McCloskey, 52, and Marcia Kadish, 56, became the first to get a waiver of the three-day waiting period and officially wed at 9:15 a.m. in the Cambridge city hall. Thousands of other couples across the state also obtained marriage licenses that day.
“In a country that guarantees equality under law, it’s heartening to see same-sex couples and their children in Massachusetts being provided with the same rights, protections and responsibilities that most families in the state already take for granted,” said Cheryl Jacques, president of the Human Rights Campaign.
Kerry names gay advisors to his campaign
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D – Mass.) named Jeff Trammell and Mary Breslauer as senior advisors to his campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender outreach and announced that Mark Seifert has joined the campaign as Director of LGBT Outreach.
Trammell held a similar position in 2000 for Vice President Al Gore and also served as national chair of business leaders for the Democratic ticket. Breslauer is a long-time Boston and national LGBT advocate. Seifert previously served as the Director of LGBT Outreach for General Wesley Clark’s campaign for president.
“Throughout my career, I’ve fought to ensure equal opportunity and equal rights for all Americans,” said Kerry. “So I’m tremendously honored that Jeff and Mary have agreed to join this campaign. They have led the fight for gay and lesbian Americans, and they will be terrific assets as we mobilize our campaign to bring change to America and reunite our nation.”
HRC issues report on increased LGBT legislation across U.S.
Thirty-seven states have or are currently considering marriage-related bills in 2004, according to a report released by the Human Rights Campaign in May.
Key findings of the publication “Equality in the States” include:
More than half of the state legislatures introduced legislation favorable to the LGBT community within the first two months of 2004 – including the New Jersey Domestic Partnership bill. Additionally, Maine and Maryland have active bills in the legislature that would provide vital rights to unmarried partners.
Twenty-six states have introduced or are expected to introduce amendments to their state constitutions that seek to ban marriage rights and, in some cases, other relationship rights for same-sex couples. Amendments in eight of these states have died or have been defeated.
Thirteen states have introduced bills to protect gay and lesbian citizens from job discrimination. It remains legal in 36 states to fire a person based solely on his or her sexual orientation and in 46 states solely on a person’s gender identity or expression.
Evan Wolfson named one of the ‘TIME 100’
Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, www.freedomtomarry.org, has been named one of the “TIME 100,” a list in the special edition of TIME magazine featuring the 100 most influential people alive today. Recognized for his pioneering work on marriage equality for same-sex couples, Wolfson is included in the “Heroes and Icons” section of the list, along with luminaries such as Nelson Mandela, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bono, and Nobel Prize winners.
“It is an immense honor to be listed alongside heroes like Nelson Mandela,” said Wolfson. “And I am thrilled to see this recognition that marriage equality for same-sex couples is a crucial civil rights struggle whose time has come.”
HRC endorses Senator John Kerry for President
The Human Rights Campaign endorsed Sen. John Kerry for president on June 16. The decision was made by the HRC’s board of directors based on the candidate’s support for LGBT equality, demonstrated leadership and his viability to win in November.
In 1996, Sen. Kerry was one of only 14 senators, and the only up for re-election, to cast a vote against the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. He also testified in front of a Senate committee in 1993 against the policy that prohibits military service by openly gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
PFLAG executive director resigns
PFLAG Executive Director David Tseng announced his intention to leave the organization in June, at the end of his current contractual term. Tseng stepped in as executive director two years ago and proved to be a powerful advocate for the agency and its causes.