Metropolitan Community Church Marriage Equality Update February 2011
In our ongoing effort to support marriage equality throughout the United States and around the world, we offer this update as a resource for congregations preparing marriage equality events this month. We also offer tips to help improve the success of marriage equality actions. We are grateful for the work of Evan Wolfson and his Freedom to Marry organization for much of the information contained here. That organization’s website www.freedomtomarry.org is an invaluable resource available to all.
Five states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire) plus the District of Columbia have the freedom to marry for gay couples, and there are three more states (Maryland, Rhode Island and New York) that officially pledge non-discrimination against marriages between same-sex couples from other states.Various states now offer broad protections short of marriage, including civil union in Illinois and New Jersey, and broad domestic partnership in Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and California. Smaller packages of protections for same-sex couples are available in Hawaii, Maryland, Maine, Colorado, and Wisconsin.
With these advances, nearly 14% of the US population lives in a state that either has the freedom to marry for gay couples or honors out-of-state marriages of gay couples. 25% live in a state with either marriage or a broad legal status such as civil union/partnership. When the Illinois Civil Union Act is signed into law, more than 40% of the US population (over 125 million Americans) will live in a state which provides some form of protections for gay couples.
The situation described above is constantly changing. For example, on Tuesday February 1 the Iowa State House is set to debate a resolution that would forbid Domestic Partnerships, Gay Marriage and Civil Unions in that state, if voters approve a proposed constitutional amendment. Debate is ongoing in states like Massachusetts where the desire exists to offer same sex married couples the same Federal benefits offered to opposite sex couples. The Obama Administration appears to be shifting in its positions on full equality for LGBT citizens. It remains to be seen whether the President will support full Marriage Equality.
It is clear that now, as much as ever, theo-political activism is needed from people of faith who support equality for all, and Metropolitan Community Churches, as a historic partner in this struggle has a key role to play.
Marriage Equality on the International SceneMany countries now have the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. These include the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, and Argentina. Many more provide some protections for such couples. Protection at some level is offered in three other areas.
On December 10, 2010, the government of Brazil issued an executive order ensuring that members of same-sex couples would receive survivor’s benefits in the event of a partner’s death. Although the freedom to marry has not yet been achieved in Brazil, in 2000 a court in Rio Grande do Sul granted same-sex couples inheritance rights and allowed them to add their partners to their health insurance and retirement plans.
Mexico City’s Legislative Assembly voted 39-20 to uphold the freedom to marry for same-sex couples on December 21, 2009. The law defines marriage as “the free uniting of two people.” The bill also legalizes adoption by gay couples. In August 2010, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that the law honoring the freedom to marry in Mexico City is constitutional and all states must honor same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.
Other countriesthat offer many rights to same-sex couples, but stop short of marriage, include Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay. Countries that offer some spousal rights to same-sex couples, which are far from full marriage equality, include: Andorra, Austria, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Luxembourg, Slovenia, and Switzerland.
What Can We Do?
1. Become a voice for Marriage Equality
Share your own story. Write letters to the Editor on occasions such as Valentine’s Day. Send Holy Union and Engagement announcements to newspaper that publish them. Strongly encourage them to publish them along with announcements for heterosexual couples. Offer yourself as a resource to reporters, get to know them and inform them when events related to marriage equality are planned.
2. Organize Marriage Equality Events
Take groups of couples to the Court House or your local marriage license issuing agency. Complete the paper work; complete the process from beginning to end. In Florida, for example, couples are given copies of the statute prohibiting same-sex marriage. Take pictures of your group holding their notices. Send them to the media and send them to us to share with others. Work with local Colleges and Universities and their offices of Multicultural Affairs and/or Campus Ministry programs. Assist those organizations in developing on-campus Marriage Equality events. (The University of Florida holds an annual “Dearly Beloved” event).
3. Meet your Elected Officials
We are vital constituents who vote and participate in the public forum. Visit your local officials first. Introduce yourself and openly discuss your family and what full equality means to you. Educate them about them about the basic rights same-sex families are missing because of the lack of Marriage Equality (many of them have never considered this). Show up and candidate forums and ask questions regarding Marriage Equality. Volunteer in the campaigns of those who pledge their support to full equality for all citizens.
4. Donate your Time and your Money
Financially support organizations who work toward Marriage Equality. Our denomination is committed to this ongoing work. Other organizations like Freedom to Marry and the Human Rights Campaign are also active in this work. Volunteer with your local activist groups. Many states have “Equality” organizations that could use your volunteer efforts. Work with your local supportive political party. Find an organization that you believe in and become that organization’s voice for Marriage Equality.
Our founder The Reverend Elder Troy Perry established Metropolitan Community Churches as a vital part of the effort for Marriage Equality in the United States and around the world. We are still committed to that effort today. You can make a difference with your peaceful activism and your commitment to being a voice for Marriage Equality in our denomination, in your community and around the world.
This statement prepared in conjunction with The Moderator’s Global Justice Team, Metropolitan Community Churches,The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair
For Further Information, Contact:
Rev. Jim Merritt
Marriage Equality and Adoptions Coordinator for MCC’s Global Justice Team
People of African Descent, Friends & Allies Conference 2011
Click here to register today for this life changing event! Look for more information on MCC’s 2011 PAD Conference in your inbox.
Save the Date!
19 – 22 May 2011 in Washington, DC
The MCC Global Justice Team Invites You To Participate In A Conference Call With Val Kalende, Ugandan LGBT Rights Activist And Co-Founder Of The LGBT Movement In Uganda
The conference call will take place on Thursday, 3 February 2011, at 7:00 PM ET. Please dial 1.218.936.4141 and enter Participant Access Code: 33315. Questions about the call or interview should be directed to Rev. Dr. Robert Griffin .