MEUSANewsletterJanuary2008 | Freedom To Marry | Same Sex Marriage

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

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Resolutions for the New Year Election 2008 Let California Ring Dream of Equality Legislative Briefs New Study-Marriage Promotion Industry Merchandise Online Pursuit of Equality Couples Corner

The “M” Word
V O L U M E I I I I S S U E I J A N U A R Y 2 0 0 8

Resolutions for the New Year
2. Register to Vote Make a difference in this important election year by voting and having your voice heard at the polls! 3. Get Engaged Say “I Do” to getting engaged-educate your friends, family and clergy about marriage equality. 4. Volunteer –Get involved with your local chapter of Marriage Equality USA. 5. Become A Member Join Marriage Equality USA as a member and become part of a positive force creating change. 6. Start a Chapter Become the first to start a chapter of Marriage Equality USA in your local region. 7. Sign the Marriage Declaration It’s available to sign online at our website: www.marriageequality.org 8.Write Your Electeds Make your opinions known and write to your elected officials. They want to know your perspective. 9. Make a Donation Make a financial contribution to Marriage Equality USA to show your support! 10. Get Others Involved Get your friends and family to join you and us as we go forward in our fight for the freedom to marry! Here’s to a great 2008!

So the new year has started and if you’re like everyone else you’ve probably created a list of resolutions and already broken half of them! Well, here’s a list of 10 resolutions for 2008 that you can work on throughout the year to bring about a positive change in the marriage equality movement! 1. Tell Your Story Tell everyone you know, friends, family, coworkers- why marriage equality matters to you.

Election 2008
The 2008 Election Campaigns are in full swing spreading across the United States in this season of Primaries. One of the most important things you can do is to register to vote and then to actually vote! Make this year the year that your voice is heard at the polls. Participate in the election process and help shape the future of the presidency. Marriage Equality USA has received a lot of questions from people asking who to vote for in the various races. Marriage Equality USA does not endorse any political candidates, we only provide educational materials and resources to help you form your own decisions. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has put together an excellent resource for voters entitled “The 2008 Presidential Candidates’ Positions on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues”. You can download the 35 page document from here http://www.thetaskforce.org/ downloads/reports/reports/ final_candidates_positions.pdf Make a difference– go VOTE!!!

Let California Ring
Dear Love Warriors, The first time I saw it, I was moved. And it's moving people everywhere to do more. Not long ago, the Let California Ring campaign sent their video to thousands of Californians. Today, I'm excited to share it with you. In the video, gay and lesbian couples, their families, friends and supporters share personal stories, heartfelt reflections, and inspiring perspectives on the freedom to marry. If every Californian could see this video, well, we think the freedom to marry would have many more supporters. Have you seen it? Even more, have you shared it? Click here: http://www.kintera.org/site/ lookup.asp? c=ltJTJ6MQIuE&b=3439859 Let California Ring needs the help of supporters like you to change hearts and minds in California. There are millions of Californians who support the LGBT community, but who STILL don't stand up for the freedom of gay and lesbian couples to marry - simply because they haven't heard from the people behind our fight. So let them hear from you: *Sign the pledge to say "Yes, I support the freedom to marry" http://www.kintera.org/site/ lookup.asp? c=ltJTJ6MQIuE&b=3439859 *Get our ring of support and wear it until the day that everyone has the freedom to marry the person they love http:// www.letcaliforniaring.org/site/ lookup.asp? c=ltJTJ6MQIuE&b=3584945 *Then pass along the Let California Ring video to friends and family to start conversations about why you support the freedom to marry Today, more people than ever know and love someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. We must take advantage of this momentum by not being silent. Reach out and start a conversation with the people you know about the freedom to marry. You'll be surprised at how easy it is to change someone's mind when they hear how this issue affects YOU. And when words are hard to find, use your ring of support or the Let California Ring video as powerful tools to show the ways in which we're all affected, when some of us don't have the freedom to marry the person we love. Don't wait for someone else to be the change. Please join me and be a voice for the freedom to marry today. Sincerely,

David Janis-Kitzmiller President, Board of Directors Marriage Equality USA

Dream of Equality
As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, let us be reminded of the dream of equality that we all share.

that not having the freedom to marry bring to light. Quoting a passage from her late husband's writing, Coretta Scott King reaffirmed her stance on gay and lesbian rights at a luncheon celebrating the 25 anniversary of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, "We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny . . . I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be," she said, quoting her husband. "I've always felt that

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be selfevident, that all men are created equal." Those words spoken by Dr. King still hold true today as same-sex couples and their families face the social injustices and discrimination

homophobic attitudes and policies were unjust and unworthy of a free society and must be opposed by all Americans who believe in democracy." She said the civil rights movement "thrives on unity and inclusion, not division and exclusion." Her husband's struggle parallels that of the gay rights movement, she said. - Chicago
Sun Times, April 1, 1998, p.18.

Let’s work together to realize the dream of civil marriage equality for all. Together we can make a difference!

Legislative Briefs
granted other state benefits and rights accorded to partners in marriages. The measure passed the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee on a 4 - 3 vote along party lines with Democrats in the majority. The bill now moves to the Judiciary Committee. If it is approved there it would be sent to the full House for a vote. Backers of a proposed amendment to bar same-sex marriage in Florida are scrambling to find 20,000 signatures to get the measure on November's ballot after the Secretary of State announced Monday that a counting mistake put them well short of the required 611,000 signatures needed. With two weeks until the deadline for submitting signatures it is unclear if Florida4Marriage will be able to make up the 20,000 name shortfall. Florida4Marriage attempted to have the measure placed on the 2006 ballot but fell short of the required signatures. Under Florida law Florida4Marriage, was allowed to continue to add names to the petition in a bid to get it on the 2008 ballot. The same-sex partners of workers in the civil service in Nevada could soon have health and insurance benefits. The board of the Nevada Public Employees Benefits Program has voted to expand coverage to unmarried couples and their dependents. The measure, which includes same-and opposite-sex couples who live together, still needs to go through public hearings and then receive the approval of the legislature.

A domestic partner bill that died in the New Mexico legislature this spring has been revived at the prodding of Gov. Bill Richardson. The legislation would create a statewide domestic partnership registry for both same and opposite-sex couples. Couples would be guaranteed access to each other in hospitals and be able to make medical decisions for partners who are unable to make those decisions themselves, and they would be

New Study on ‘Marriage Promotion Industry’
SIECUS Releases Publication on the Marriage Promotion Industry - Programs Discriminate Against LGBT Youth and Families Recently the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) released Legalized Discrimination: The Rise of the Marriage-Promotion Industry and How Federally Funded Programs Discriminate Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth and Families. The special report examines the rise of the federal government's involvement in promoting heterosexual marriage as the only morally acceptable life choice, and discriminating against individuals who do not fit into that mold. "This is an important report that sheds light on an over-looked, insidious form of discrimination against LGBT youth and their families," said Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). "I hope this information is read and absorbed by policy-makers, parents, and educators." With the unwavering support of the Bush administration, and more than two billion federal and state dollars over the past quarter century, distributed through programs such as the Healthy Marriage Initiative, groups dedicated to promoting marriage have become more than a community of individual organizations with a shared goal. Well-funded marriage-promotion and abstinence-only-until-marriage programs have become a fullfledged industry that is ostensibly aimed at preventing teen pregnancy and reducing poverty, but in reality promotes idealized notions of heterosexual marriage as the cure for all of society's ills in schools, stigmatizes and demeans LGBT youth, and leaves all youth unprepared to make healthy decisions in their lives. "On a fundamental level, this report tells the story of how some of the most extreme right wing elements of our country conspired to subvert taxpayer dollars to promote one type of family over all others," said William Smith, vice president for public policy at SIECUS. "Marriage-promotion programs are trying to make second-class citizens out of LGBT youth and families. This report sheds light on how violative these programs are of basic American values like tolerance and diversity." SIECUS' special report outlines the history of the marriage promotion industry, the funding streams which support it, the messages it is giving to youths, the conservative agenda that motivates it, and also gives policy recommendations based on the findings. The full report and executive summary can be found at www.siecus.org. Contact Patrick Malone at (212) 819-9770 ext. 316 or pmalone@siecus.org with any questions.

MEUSA Merchandise Available Online
Ever wondered how you can get all that snazzy Marriage Equality logo merchandise? Well wonder no more! You can visit our online store at www.cafepress.com/meusa Here you’ll find t-shirts, hats, coffee mugs, calendars, buttons, sweatshirts, and just about everything you can think of with the Marriage Equality logo!

Pursuit of Equality
BY ISSUING SAME-SEX MARRIAGE LICENSES, SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR GAVIN NEWSOM UPROOTS THE STATUS QUO, ATTEMPTS TO CHANGE THE WAY THE NATION LOOKS AT LIFE, LOVE, AND MARRIAGE, AND IGNITES WHAT MAY BECOME OUR NATION’S NEXT GREAT CIVIL RIGHTS ISSUE. PURSUIT OF EQUALITY is an emotionally charged film that puts a face on American citizens who strive for marriage equality. From the first frame of the film, even before the press is aware, this film crew is with Mayor Gavin Newsom’s senior staff as the nation’s first same-sex couple exchange their vows and ignite the most controversial civil rights topic in recent history. The story continues on the streets, in the courtrooms, and on the steps of City Hall, where same-sex couples clash with church groups who declare that who they are and how they love is a sin. The film focuses on the compelling, human rights struggles surrounding same-sex marriage and captures the elation and despair of couples and families who are fighting for equal rights. As the only film crew in the Mayor's chambers during the most crucial of times, this extraordinary film provides a telling ‘fly-on-the wall’ view as this historic event unfolds.

For more information visit www.pursuitofequality.com

Now Available on DVD

Couples Corner—Love stories from around the globe
I'm from Kentucky and took a job with a law firm in Omaha a number of years ago. I was a nationwide trial attorney at the time Margaux and I met. I had a long trial in Daytona Beach. After being there several weeks I finally called a friend in Orlando and asked if she'd like to meet me in Orlando for dinner. So, we met several friends of hers at dinner and one of her friends was so much fun, so happy, so full of life. Do you know that line in Auntie Mame . . . "Live, live, live! Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!" Well, this girl was doing it. Cute and could dance. Witty. I thought . . . gee, why couldn't I meet a girl like that? She was an actress at Universal Studios in Orlando and a television reporter for an Orlando news channel. . . . So, the next day I wake up in my hotel room and I'm feeling a little sick . . . short of breath . . . chest pains . . . almost a panic attack kind of feeling. Then it hit me . . . I did meet a girl like that! I called my friend and said, we have to find Margaux and go out again tonight. So, we did. Margaux was less than enthusiastic. She thought I was some out of town lonely heart just looking for some temporary company. After my trial ended, I flew back to Orlando every weekend for the next few months. Finally, she came up to Omaha and met some of my friends. We dated over several months and she eventually agreed to move to Omaha. So that's the story of how we met. We had a civil union at the Lilac Inn on July 8, 2000 - shortly after the civil union law was passed. When we got back from Vermont the political storm over our "marriage" amendment was getting fired up. We were the only couple from NE who had gone to Vermont. So, we did lots of media, debates, radio, tv . . . in opposition to the amendment. We later were part of the lawsuit with the ACLU. We planned to go back to Vermont to have Grayson but he was born 9 weeks early in Omaha on October 23, 2001. A whopping 2 lbs. We eventually worked for legislation in Nebraska that would allow a second parent adoption but it didn't pass last year. We have a website in support of the legislation www.NEAdoption2.org. This summer I took a job in Austin and we got the second parent adoption done ASAP. My company was then purchased by another and they said we could live wherever we wanted and we came back to Omaha. Omaha. After the bad timing with his birth - the adoption story is nothing short of a miracle. When we found out we were finally expecting a little bundle of joy we couldn’t have been more excited. We bought the little thinga -magiggy that lets you hear the baby’s movements and a microphone we could place on my tummy to talk to the little cherub. We read him Shakespeare and poetry and Dr. Seuss. I stopped drinking caffeine and having chocolate and did all of the other over the top things we could think to make a perfect baby. I guess our over exuberance was a combination of waiting until we were older to have a baby and then having to work so hard at it. Anyway in all of our excitement we started searching for books that were relevant to our beginning family and ended up disappointed by the limited supply available. Over the years that has changed, our son is six now and the selection offered has grown and now we have a minilibrary full of fun books pertinent to our family and lives. We know we are a minority and that most kids have a mom and a dad, but for little guys like our son we thought wouldn’t it be grand if there were something more available to them. Something like a cartoon, like a Caillou with two moms or dads. The more we talked about it the more important it became. It was almost like, if we didn’t do something about it after we had this fantastic idea, then we were somehow being irresponsible parents. So out of that, “Buddy G” was born. It took longer, cost more and was way harder then we thought it would be, but we couldn’t be happier or more proud of the cartoon and the potential it represents. “Buddy G” has added incredible joy to our family and we hope he adds a little happiness to yours. Sincerely, Margaux, Donna and Grayson www.buddyg.tv

Founded in 1998, Marriage Equality USA is a national grassroots organization whose mission is to secure legally recognized civil marriage equality for all, at the federal and state level, without regard to gender

Marriage Equality USA
4096 Piedmont Avenue Suite 257 Oakland, California 94611 Phone: 510-496-2700 Fax: 510-380-5200 E-mail: info@marriageequality.org www.marriageequality.org

identity or sexual orientation . For more information or to get involved please visit www.marriageequality.org !

©2007 MEUSA All rights reserved.

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