Friday, February 6, 2009
Thank you for your willingness to take personal action in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples. Join the Impact is co-hosting the annual Marriage Equality USA marriage counter actions which take place in coordination with February’s Freedom to Marry week activities intended to raise awareness and educate the public on the importance of securing marriage equality for same-sex couples and their families across the nation.
Our action is simple yet profound. This event consists of encouraging couples to “get engaged” for marriage equality by asking for marriage licenses at their local marriage counters. Nothing better highlights the state-sanctioned discrimination against same-sex couples by having long-term same-couples, often with children and grandchildren in tow, turned away from the counter that serves every other heterosexual couple that approaches – no questions asked.
Ending marriage discrimination is a civil rights issue which concerns everyone. We encourage our straight allies, single people and supportive clergy to attend the annual marriage license counters to show support for the couples and to share why you support marriage equality.
With an ever growing number of states and countries which do marry and/or recognize the marriages of same-sex couples, we also encourage those already married couples to attend this event with a copy of their license to share the experience of being married while pointing out the challenges of non-recognition of those marriages which vary by where you happen to be standing at the moment.
Though this is a demonstration in support of civil rights for LGBT people, please understand that this is not an adversarial event. Many of the county clerks are personally supportive of marriage equality and some of the counties have passed resolutions in support of marriage equality. People who engage in this activity agree to conduct themselves with dignity, friendliness and not to raise their voices or act impolite. The county clerks are not able to change the law, they are carrying out the laws as enacted by the State legislators – not their own personal conscience – which is often at odds with their required acts to turn us away.
This is a solemn but dignified action – it is in the tradition of the civil rights lunch counter demonstrations – it is not about making a lot of noise, it is about peaceably rendering visible the legal discrimination that happens at that counter everyday. If same-sex couples never ask for the licenses, the clerks’ offices and the public don’t ever have to think about the 1,138 federal and hundred of state rights that any man and woman can just step right up and receive but that gay couples are categorically denied. Straight ally couples can join in the counter action by asking for the license – and then giving it back – stating “It isn’t fair that same-sex couples can’t be married too. So we aren’t going to engage in this paperwork today, thank you anyway.”