Just in time for Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14), same-sex couples are being asked to “Request Marriage” during Freedom to Marry Week. As part of a nationwide protest in states that do not currently have laws allowing same-sex couples to tie the knot, couples, their families, friends, allies and supporters are being asked to visit clerks’ offices to request marriage licenses and bring attention to the inequities within the LGBT community.
These annual actions, started by Marriage Equality USA in the mid-90s, will be taking place this year in dozens of locations, and in states like Pennsylvania that scarcely offer any LGBT protections. Denying same-sex marriage actually excludes couples from more than 1,000 rights and protections under federal law in our own backyard.
The two PA locations hosting special events tomorrow include the Susquehanna Ceremonies Office (255 Butler Avenue, Suite 206) in Lancaster at noon (Rev. Reenie, a wedding officiant, is hosting free commitment ceremonies in her office) and the Willowbank County Office Building (414 Holmes Street, Suite 2) in Bellafonte at noon with GetEQUAL. Protestors are also encouraged to visit their own local clerk’s office, like Philly’s City Hall.
“President Obama’s inauguration speech included LGBTIQ Americans in a way that was inspiring, powerful and timely. He tied Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall together with the same thread, forever binding the fabric of civil rights across all generations,” says Brian Silva, executive director of Marriage Equality USA. “For the first time in a Presidential inauguration speech, we heard LGBTIQ people included in ‘We the People.’ However, same-sex couples still cannot marry the person they love in the majority of American states. To that end, we will once again gather at marriage counters on Valentine’s Day and ask to be issued marriage licenses.”
The 2013 events are sponsored by a coalition of organizations, including GetEQUAL, California Faith for Equality, the Foundation for Family and Marriage Equality in Texas, and the Coalition of Welcoming Congregations.
“Today, we go to marriage license counters across the country to tell the stories of our LGBTIQ friends and family; to show that they live in every community and that we want to honor and protect their families just like everyone else,” says Pastor Rebecca Harrison, who will lead couples at San Francisco City Hall. “Love makes a marriage and the time for marriage equality is now.”
Rev. Harrison is a Minister in the Presbyterian Church and a straight ally. interestingly, her father was a Presbyterian minister who supported civil rights in the South during the controversial integration of public schools. She and other supporters note that this year’s annual event has never been more important as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear two landmark marriage equality cases next month.
“Same-sex couples will be asking for marriage licenses on Valentine’s Day, just as briefs in the marriage cases are being filed with the United States Supreme Court. This year, couples will hold hands at the marriage counter with the hope that the Justices will rule on the side of love, so that the court cases can stop and the wedding plans can start,” says John Lewis, legal director for Marriage Equality USA.