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Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

Will Phillips is a 10-year-old 5th grader in West Fork, Arkansas who refuses to stand up and say the pledge of allegiance at school (Arkansas Times article here). His reason? LGBT people do not have the same rights as other people, and as he says “I really don’t feel that there’s currently liberty and justice for all.” Let me just reiterate two important points: (a) he’s 10 and (b) he lives in Arkansas. This brilliant 10-year-old wants to be a lawyer when he grows up, and to him freedom of speech means “The freedom to disagree. That’s what I think pretty much being an American represents.” His parents, who also sound like amazing people, are totally supportive of Will and are not trying to stifle him or prevent him from speaking out at all. Unfortunately for all of his bravery, Will is facing homophobic teasing from his classmates and threats from homophobics everywhere.

I think we can all learn a big lesson from Will. At 10, this little boy has more courage than many (or most) adults in this country. He has the courage to act against the beliefs of his teachers, classmates, and many in his community, because he truly believes that we, as Americans, are not living up to the meaning of the pledge of allegiance. Will deserves our full support, and he has something to teach all of us. If we all started acting like this on a regular basis, people will start to notice and change may just start to happen even faster. I hope Obama learns a lesson from Will as well – that if one little boy can stand up (or sit down as the case may be) against so much evil in this world, then the President of the United States can certainly push back against the conservatives who are trying to keep him from making policies that support the rights of women and the LGBT community in this country. Furthermore, Will is also sending a message of hope to all of the LGBT youth in this country who may be afraid to speak our or reveal their dissatisfaction with their lack of rights.

I am in awe of this little boy, and I hope that we all can start following in his example by questioning authority and refusing to participate in certain “patriotic” acts just because we are told we have to.

Watch Will (and see for yourself how brilliant and fabulous he is) on CNN:

Read Kate Kendell’s post about him here.

You can become a fan of him on facebook here.

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777px-Gay_flagToday has been a sad day. I had high hopes that Maine would vote to allow gay marriage, and we would be celebrating a victory today. Unfortunately, the Yes on 1 campaign won out, with numbers strikingly similar to the Prop 8 numbers in California last year. As Kate Kendell from NCLR said, this deja vu is far from comforting. It is so disheartening to know that there are still so many people in this country believe that same-sex couples do not deserve the same rights as different sex couples. Of course, no one can ever take away the ability of people to form loving, long-term relationships with same-sex partners, but every state that takes away the right to marry continues to impress upon us that there are those out there who do not think LGBT are as deserving, or not full citizens in some way. 

Sometimes I wonder if the marriage battle is worth all of the money and energy, because the lack of progress is so frustrating, but then I step back and think about everything that comes along with marriage. Without marriage, same-sex couples cannot protect basic parts of their relationship. Without federal recognition of marriage, same-sex couples are not entitled to the same healthcare benefits, cannot secure the same medical rights, or death benefits, and often have trouble securing parentage rights over the children they raise together. I like to think that marriage is just a meaningless status, but when the government makes so many rights contingent upon it, marriage becomes so much more. And unless we get rid of the institution of marriage all together, I think it will continue to be important to fight as hard as we can for marriage equality (not, of course, at the expense of anything else).

And just a word on blame. Everyone seems eager to blame someone or something for the disappointment in Maine, but I really don’t think this is the way to go. The people who worked on the No on 1 campaign worked incredibly hard, and gave all they had to turn out the vote and to convince people to vote no. In order to get the numbers where we want them to be, everyone needs to step up, and not just in the states where the battle happens to be centered. Everyone who thinks that same-sex couples deserve the right to marry (and everyone who thinks that the LGBT community deserves every right straight people have, for that matter) needs to take some time to talk to the people they know who don’t share those beliefs. It will never be possible to suceed if everyone is not participating in the effort.

On the bright side, we will hopefully see a victory in Washington (although the numbers are a little too close for me to be totally satisfied), and there was also victory in Kalmazoo, MI. Houston will (hopefully) have a lesbian mayor, as will Chapel Hill, NC, and Detroit elected an openly gay city council president. Despite the loss in Maine, progress continues to occur.

Now that the election is over, I urge you to continue to move forward and fight for the passage of ENDA, which will secure federal employment protections for LGBT people. If it passes (which it can), it will be an incredible sign of progress and hope. Contact your congressperson to urge them to support it.

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As an alternative to purity rings, the National Marriage Boycott has created Equality Rings. Members wear these on their ring finger as a symbol of committment to not get married until DOMA is repealed.  As the co director of the boycott states:

We wanted to create a movement that enabled straight people to show their support for LGBT rights, and we wanted this movement to have the capacity to rapidly expand in a financially sustainable way. The rings allow us to finance our expansion, while creating a recognizable symbol for our cause.

Show your support and buy one here for $10!

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DOMA to be Repealed?

The Respect for Marriage Act was introduced in the House, which would repeal DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) which provides federal recognition for heterosexual married couples only.

As Kate Kendell at the NCLR explains:

The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal both sections 2 and 3 of DOMA. Section 2 creates an exception to the full faith and credit clause for married same-sex couples. The Respect for Marriage Act would eliminate that provision, but it would leave each state free to decide whether to recognize marriages of same-sex couples from other states. Section 3 excludes same-sex spouses from all federal benefits and protections, including Social Security survivor benefits, the right to file joint taxes, and the right to petition for permanent residence for a foreign spouse. The Respect for Marriage Act would require that the federal government treat all married couples equally.


Our friend and partner Jason Bartlett from the National Black Justice Coalition reminds us of what exactly DOMA has meant for our community. “DOMA is an egregious piece of legislation as it codifies discrimination into federal law. As African Americans, we know all too well the injustices that laws such as this impose on our communities and our families and we are sensitive to the federal government trying to define our families. Let us consign the mistakes of the past to history and move forward together. We call on Congress to pass the Respect to Marriage Act as we continue to fight for our civil rights.”


NCLR is proud to have worked in close cooperation with other groups and lead co-sponsors to help define the scope of the bill to repeal DOMA and to secure federal respect for the marriages of same-sex couples. We support the legislative repeal, as well as the legal overturn, of DOMA.
President Obama has made it clear that he, too, supports an end to DOMA. On June 17, 2009, President Barack Obama said, “I stand by my long-standing commitment to work with Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. It’s discriminatory, it interferes with states’ rights, and it’s time we overturned it.” The President most recently reiterated his support for the repeal of DOMA in an August 17, 2009 White House statement.

This may be a long shot, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. After all, with Obama in the White House, there’s really no excuse for keeping DOMA on the books. It will be a great year if the Respect for Marriage Act and ENDA both get passed.

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