12th Annual Freedom to Marry Week

This is a big week on the equal rights front. It’s Freedom to Marry Week — and many groups like Out4Immigration, Join the Impact, Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA) and Equality California (EQCA) are joining forces to raise awareness about the need for equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in the United States.

Marriage in the United States remains a federal institution at best — and because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed in 1996, marriage is restricted to opposite-sex couples. While states like Massachusetts and Connecticut have laws that afford all couples the right to marry — the protections, rights and privileges that come with those marriage certificates are good only at the state level for same-sex couples. There are still 1,138 federal rights these couples — or any other same-sex couple in America — cannot obtain. (Read more about a recent federal circuit court ruling challenging the ban on just one of these 1,138 rights here.)

If you think all Americans are entitled to equal marriage rights, and I’m guessing if you’ve read this far, you do — here are four things you can do this week to show your support during Freedom to Marry Week:

1) Support the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) — Immigration rights is one of the 1,138 federal rights gay and lesbian couples cannot obtain. Because of this, gay and lesbian Americans in a relationship with a person from another country cannot sponsor their partner for a green card. The couples often have very few options of remaining together in the United States legally. A bill will be re-introduced in Congress on February 12. Call your representative to ask him/her to lend their support. (See post below for instructions on how to do this.)
2) Join the Impact — and unite for LGBTQ equality. This is a one-stop website to find out actions you can take not only during Freedom to Marry Week, but all year long.
3) Find out about an event you can take part in through Marriage Equality USA. Check out their Action Alerts page. Marriage equality is something you can work toward in all 50 states. This is also a great organization to tap into to get the facts on those 1,138 marriage rights denied LGBTQ people.
4) Add your name to overturn Proposition 8 — EQCA is circulating an online petition in which you can show your support for the hearing in California on March 5. This is the hearing that will consider whether Proposition 8 — which denies all Californians the right to marry — is actually constitutional or not. Also at stake are the 18,000 same-sex marriages that were legally performed in California last year.