Marriage Equality USA was delighted with the success of the Unite for Marriage campaign, having supported the organization of rallies held in states across the country on April 28, the day the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for and against marriage equality. MEUSA Executive Director Brian Silva noted that as a grassroots organization with the most direct contact with its members, MEUSA’s lead was pivotal among the handful of top sponsoring organizations.
“MEUSA staff on the ground in DC helped to prepare and execute events. We had five staff members for the rally in front of the court; Stuart [Gaffney], Juan Carlos [Fernandez], John [Lewis], Paul [Carey], and myself. I also served as one of the coordinators on the team that supported 50 events around the country,” says Brian.
MEUSA made sure there was additional support for and emphasis placed on the regional events, not just the DC events. This was a strategic decision MEUSA pushed for among the lead organizations. “That was something we pressed for,” says Brian. “We were able to make sure things happened. There were thousands of people in DC and tens of thousands involved with all the local events that took place.” The widespread participation ensured both local and national news coverage documenting the breadth of support marriage equality enjoys even in areas formerly hostile toward LGBTQ rights. Rallies were held as far away as Alaska, on both coasts and in many central states as well.
Brian was also asked (at the last minute, without prepared remarks) to speak at the DC rally. “I was able to speak in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, representing all of the work done by grassroots activists to get to this point,” he says.
Included in the campaign was a 12-hour evening vigil the night before the U.S. Supreme Court marriage hearing outside the Court. The intention was to create a more spiritual setting in which to ground the rallies that would be held the next day. The vigil culminated in a morning procession led by faith leaders from the Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Washington, DC, to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.
As for the Unite for Marriage day itself, Brian says, “It was an honor to be one of the grassroots voices at the table making sure our nation came together to support this historic day.” Among the other lead organizations were GLAAD, the National LGBTQ Task Force, Freedom to Marry, GetEQUAL, the Human Rights Campaign and the Campaign for Southern Equality.
With hope beginning to emerge that the U.S. Supreme Court will make marriage equality a nationwide reality, once and for all, in June, he adds that, “We are working for more than just marriage and we need to fight for full equality regardless of the outcome in June — full lived equality. That means things like non-discrimination laws and policies for LGBTQ people, defeating religious “right to discriminate” bills, and also remembering that our community is diverse. Women’s issues are our issues, veteran’s issues are our issues, youth issues and race issues are our issues. These are all priorities for our movement.”
To see photos from rallies across the country and more information about individual rallies, please go to: http://www.uniteformarriage.org/local-events.html.
First photo: Courtesy San Francisco, CA Unite for Marriage event page Facebook
Second photo: Courtesy of Huntsville, AL Unite for Marriage event page Facebook, Lisa Cox
Third photo: MEUSA ED Brian Silva speaking at Washington DC Unite for Marriage Rally, by Paul Carey, MEUSA Multimedia Director
Fourth photo: Unite for Marriage rally crowd, Washington DC, by Paul Carey, MEUSA Multimedia Director