Guest Blogger

Following DC: What the Freedom to Marry in Our Capital Means Nationwide

Filed By Guest Blogger | March 09, 2010 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics, The Movement
Tags: DC gay marriage, DC marriage equality, DOMA, Evan Wolfson, marriage equality, Respect for Marriage Act

Editors' note: Evan Wolfson is founder and Executive Director of Freedom to Marry. In 2004 TIME magazine named Evan one of the "100 most influential people in the world."

Today, surrounded by friends and family, the first same-sex couples in Washington D.C. to receive marriage licenses are celebrating their legal marriages. D.C. now officially joins the five states and eight countries that have ended exclusion from marriage. Marriage in our nation's capital marks a significant victory not only for D.C. couples who no longer need to leave home to secure the protections and responsibilities of marriage, but also for the national movement to win the freedom to marry.

Local advocates spent years doing the critical work of educating lawmakers, engaging with District residents about gay people and marriage, telling personal stories, and building relationships with key allies. That work has resulted in same-sex couples being better able to care for their families - and took nothing away from any other family.

Our victory in D.C. brings us one step closer to winning marriage for all committed couples - and other victories are within reach. A key component of the Freedom to Marry roadmap to winning marriage nationwide is to grow the number of states where same-sex couples share in the freedom to marry. The more states that end the denial of marriage, the more Americans get to see with their own eyes families helped and no one hurt. The more states we win, the closer America comes to the climate that will enable a federal victory in Congress or the Supreme Court, bringing national resolution.

To maintain the powerful momentum created by victory in D.C., the freedom to marry movement must increase education, mobilization, and legislator-persuasion efforts the next wave of states in which victories are within reach. In Rhode Island, New York, Minnesota, and Maryland, a critical mass of lawmakers for the freedom to marry is at hand. In Maine and California (where legislatures have already voted for marriage, but must overcome a hurdle at the ballot-box), along with Oregon, state-based public education campaigns are underway to lay the groundwork for victory at the ballot. Every conversation gay and non-gay marriage supporters have with lawmakers, friends, and family moves the ball forward. The work we do together in these states in 2010 will make all the difference in adding them to the growing list of states where same-sex couples share in marriage.

Marriage in Washington, D.C.'s has important implications not only for the state-by-state component of the Roadmap to Victory, but also for another element, Freedom to Marry's commitment to federal advances along the way. As members of Congress and the Administration mingle with local committed couples living more securely than before and witness first-hand that the sky does not fall, it will be evident that there is no good reason for denying gay couples the freedom to marry, and every reason to end the federal discrimination against married couples inflicted through the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act." As our allies in Congress continue to grow support for the "Respect for Marriage Act", which would repeal the discrimination inflicted by "DOMA" they won't have to look far to point to committed same-sex couples whose families are more secure as a result of their marriages but who still lack the more than a thousand federal marriage consequences unfairly denied to married same-sex couples.

Those of us impatient for the day when America no longer excludes committed couples from marriage have to redouble our efforts - not as a piecemeal set of actions, but as a true campaign with its eyes on the prize. Each of us can do our part, taking the actions we can most effectively do, as part of a larger whole that brings it all together. That's Freedom to Marry's vision, call to action, and Roadmap to Victory. Join us - and let's make a good idea coming out of Washington, D.C. real throughout America.


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Washington DC is now the gay and lesbian wedding capital of America. I am so proud of my hometown. All the married gay and lesbian couples here in Washington DC will be powerful witnesses to the US Congress, the White House, and the Courts.

Marriage in DC is a truly wonderful thing, long overdue and a great example of how, in the fullness of time, all Americans will have the right to marry. True relationship equality for all Americans in our nation's capital is a powerful statement, one I hope carries far and wide.

At the same time, however, I also believe that right now, with the economy and the unemployment rate being what it is, our top priority should be ENDA and protecting LGBT workers from discrimination in the workplace.

After all, of how much value is the ability to get legally married when you're still being denied the right to make a living, rent an apartment, and access basic social services just because you're gay or trans?

Same-sex marriage is a wonderful thing, but it makes no sense to strive for that first when we still haven't secured the right to provide for our loved ones free of discrimination. It's a house built upon a foundation of sand that can crumble at any time based upon the whim of others, bringing down everything built upon it.

SSM marriage advocates should be directing their efforts toward getting an inclusive ENDA passed into law. That would help to ensure economic security for all LGBT's and our families. In this economy, the value of those protections cannot possibly be overstated.

For the good of our entire community, protecting our right to work must be correctly seen as an absolute prerequisite to ensuring the relationship rights of same-sex couples. It makes no realistic sense for any but the independently wealthy to have the right to file joint taxes and be seen legally as a couple while it's still legal to use that relationship or their identity as an LGBT person to deny them jobs, housing, and access.

It's my hope that the SSM advocates leading this charge like Mr. Wolfson will finally take off their blinders and realize that for those of us not making six or seven figures a year the ability to keep a roof over one's head and food on the table must take priority over the ability to file a joint tax return.

It's my hope, but unfortunately not my expectation. These people never seem to get it.

I'm so proud of Michael Crawford for all his work on marriage in DC. You hired a fine man, Evan.