Dec. 3, was the second anniversary of our historic trial court victory in Baehr v. Miike, saying we deserve the freedom to marry, so it is a great day to announce and begin planning for:
The Second Annual National Freedom to Marry Day Friday, February 12, 1999
What happened in 1998:
In late 1997, the National Freedom to Marry Coalition declared that February 12, 1998, would be the First Annual National Freedom to Marry Day. Activists, students, members of the clergy, and non-gay allies responded energetically and staged over fifty events in 36 communities across the country to build support for equal marriage rights for lesbian and gay Americans, garnering television and print coverage in major media markets nationwide.
We chose February 12 for National Freedom to Marry Day to coincide with Lincoln's Birthday and Valentine's Day two days later, thus emphasizing our themes of Love and Equality.
Before the day itself, national, state, and local partners in the National Freedom to Marry Coalition laid the groundwork for success by starting conversations with and asking for support from allies and potential allies outside the gay and lesbian community.
What we anticipate in 1999:
The National Freedom to Marry Coalition envisions the Second Annual National Freedom to Marry Day as an opportunity to expand our movement's reach, in terms of both the total number of events and the extent to which we all reach out beyond our own communities.
For National Freedom to Marry Day 1999, the National Freedom to Marry Coalition hopes that: a) actions and events will be planned in all 50 states, b) each local action group or committee will have moved week-by-week between now and then to assemble a broad array of allies, and c) local groups will reach as broad an audience as possible by securing coverage in the print, television, and radio media.
What's happening with the freedom to marry movement:
The election results in Hawaii and Alaska may have prevented our winning the breakthrough this year, but have not at all stopped our movement--and the breakthrough may still be at hand within a matter of months. Ours is a long- haul civil rights struggle, not a one-time political campaign. Like all civil rights struggles, it will require great fortitude and persistence. Two election defeats won't turn us back, but they can help us focus on what we need to do most: education and outreach. It takes more than political campaign work to change hearts and minds. It takes months and years of ongoing personal contact and public dialogue--exactly the kind of work that building toward and beyond National Freedom to Marry Day can entail.
Though a breakthrough decision is possible in Vermont and even in Hawaii in 1999, our recent election losses demonstrate how important it is to be able to defend the victories we've secured through the courts. This means that our urgent task is to focus our energies where we can have the most impact: at home.
A critical freedom to marry battle, for example, is facing Californians in just over a year. Will our movement focus now, build a diverse array of supporters, and help educate the California electorate over the time available to us about what civil marriage really means? That's what we have to do in order to move closer to our end goal of full equality. And that's what needs to happen everywhere, beginning now (without squandering opportunities), regardless of whether an initiative is on the ballot.
What you can do now:
Some successful events from last year included:
Make sure to let the media and others know you're planning something well in advance. If you need any tips on how to work with the media, contact GLAAD (212) 807-1700/(202) 986-1360 or Corri Planck, the Media Relations Manager at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center (323) 860-7355.
Keep in mind that this is a nationwide day, despite our separate events. That helps make the story bigger and more likely to attract attention. A national freedom to marry legal conference is already planned at Harvard University. We're hoping to develop a few more large "anchor" events as well.
Want to know more about the Freedom to Marry, our successes so far, how to engage non-gay allies and talk about the issues involved? Visit such excellent websites as Lambda Legal (www.lambdalegal.org), GLAD (www.glad.org), the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force (www.VTfreetomarry.org), the Partners' Task Force (www.buddybuddy.org), HRC (www.hrc.org). or the National Freedom to Marry Coalition (www.freedomtomarry.org).
How to keep in contact:
As soon as you decide you're going to have an event, let us know! If you need assistance, call us. If you have any questions about how to proceed or where to get help, please call. And look forward to more information and updates about National Freedom to Marry Day.
Good Luck! Have Fun! Engage New Supporters! Make History!