Freedom to Marry Celebrates a Remarkable Year

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Evan Wolfson
Executive Director, Freedom to Marry
212-851-8418
evan@freedomtomarry.org

Freedom to Marry Celebrates a Remarkable Year

Advances Across the Country Carry Momentum Into the New Year

NEW YORK - 2009
was the winningest year yet in the movement to achieve the freedom to marry for
gay couples, a year which once again showed that momentum is on the side of
equality.  More legislatures than ever discussed the need to end the exclusion
of gay couples from marriage, and three new states, including the first from
the nation's heartland (Iowa), won the freedom to marry for gay couples. 
The District of Columbia also enacted its own marriage equality law, which now
awaits 30 legislative days of Congressional review.  The national conversation
continues as more than ever people across the country from all walks of life
spoke out in support of the freedom to marry.

"More than 100 million Americans now live in places
that provide the freedom to marry or, if not yet marriage itself, at least some
state-level measure of recognition for same-sex couples and their loved ones --
up from virtually zero just a decade ago," said Evan Wolfson, executive
director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America,
Equality and Gay People's Right to Marry
.  "2009 saw same-sex couples
marrying not just on the coasts, but in America's heartland, and in 2009 the
freedom to marry came, too, to our nation's capital.  While we didn't win every
battle this year, we saw more progress and more momentum.  Each time any of us,
gay or non-gay, speaks with the people in our lives about why marriage matters
and how ending the denial of marriage is the fair way to treat all families as
we each would want our own to be treated, we move hearts and minds. 
Conversations and commitment are the key to more progress in 2010, bringing
America closer to liberty and justice for all."

 

The year in numbers:

-       
Five
states and the District of Columbia now have the freedom to marry for same-sex
couples - tripling the number of jurisdictions that have ended
discrimination in marriage.  (Watch the
Iowa celebration
)

-       
Five
state legislatures plus the City Council of DC voted on marriage bills, with
697 legislators voting in support of the freedom to marry (50% more than voted
against it).

-       
Over
113 million Americans now live in a state with relationship recognition for gay
couples, equaling over one-third (37-percent) of the United States population.
(View the map)

-       
Every
state legislator who has voted to support the freedom to marry and run for
re-election since 2005, has never lost re-election due to their vote,
representing over 1,100 state legislators. (View
the report
)

-       
107
U.S. Congress members signed on as co-sponsors to the Respect for Marriage Act,
which was introduced to repeal the discriminatory so-called ‘Defense of
Marriage Act'.

 

The year in conversations:

-       
Former
President Bill
Clinton
and former Republican Congressman Bob
Barr
came out in support of the freedom to marry and joined in the call to
pass the Respect for Marriage Act which would repeal the discriminatory law
Barr introduced and Clinton signed in 1996, the so-called ‘Defense of
Marriage Act' or DOMA.

-       
In
celebration of the freedom to marry in its home state in 2009, Vermont-based Ben & Jerry's
symbolically renamed its iconic flavor ‘Chubby Hubby' to Hubby
Hubby
.

-       
Phillip
Spooner
, an 86-year-old Republican World War II veteran gave testimony
during Maine's public hearing on marriage about how he fought at Omaha
Beach to protect our nation's freedoms such as marriage equality.

-       
United
States Senator Chris
Dodd
wrote a compelling op-ed about how he has evolved his thinking and now
supports the freedom to marry for gay couples.

-       
The
U.S.
Conference of Mayors
passed a resolution in support of the freedom to
marry.

-       
NFL
Linebacker Brendon
Ayanbadejo
wrote on the Huffington Post about why he personally supports
marriage equality.

-       
Will
Phillips
, a 10-year-old from Arkansas, refused to pledge allegiance to the
flag until gay people have equal rights. Will said, "I looked at the end
and it said 'with liberty and justice for all.' And there really isn't liberty
and justice for all. Gays and lesbians can't marry."

With
the advent of the new year on Friday and the first moment when same-sex couples
can legally wed in New Hampshire, supporters of the freedom to marry will be
building on this growing foundation to further the gains made this year.  Conversations
will be redoubled and the work re-engaged, as together people of conscience
move toward returning the freedom to marry to Maine and California, winning it
anew in New Jersey and New York, laying the groundwork for wins in other states
and increasing support for the Respect for Marriage Act and the now certain
realization of achieving the freedom to marry for all across the country.

###

Freedom to Marry is the gay and non-gay partnership working to win marriage equality nationwide. Headed by Evan Wolfson, one of America's leading civil rights advocates and lawyers, Freedom to Marry brings new resources and a renewed context of urgency and opportunity to this social justice movement.

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