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Marriage Equality USA and Marriage Equality for Pennsylvania (ME4PA) have formally united to enhance the work and reach of both organizations until full civil marriage equality is attained for all Pennsylvanians. Both organizations are volunteer-driven and working at the grassroots level.
“Working with allied partners in cooperative coalitions is a core value of Marriage Equality USA,” said MEUSA Board President Jane Wishon. “Today’s MEUSA is the result of a powerful grassroots consolidation of the original MEUSA and Marriage Equality New York (MENY). Partnering with ME4PA comes naturally for the national organization.”
“The core of MEUSA is to empower local communities to advocate on their own behalf to advance marriage equality. Partnering with an outstanding grassroots partner like ME4PA is a perfect way to combine the resources and expertise of both groups to bring equality to LGBT families as soon as possible,” stated Brian Silva, MEUSA Executive Director.
“Our two organizations remain focused on winning equality for all Pennsylvanians. We are fully committed to the LGBT community in Pennsylvania and seek to make marriage equality the law of the Commonwealth. The partnership with MEUSA is a perfect fit for both groups and for Pennsylvania,” concluded David Moore, ME4PA Founder and President.
Marriage Equality USA heartily congratulates same-sex couples in New Jersey who will be able to start marrying this coming Monday! The marriages follow the unanimous ruling publicized earlier today when the New Jersey Supreme Court refused to issue a stay of Judge Mary Jacobson’s Superior Court ruling requiring the state to permit and recognize such marriages beginning October 21, 2013. At the same time, MEUSA's National Equality Action Team (NEAT) continues to work to secure a legislative implementation of the freedom to marry in the state. In its 20-page opinion explaining why it would not grant the stay prior to the state’s appeal of Judge Jacobson’s ruling which will be heard next January, the Supreme Court wrote that the State of New Jersey has neither demonstrated that its underlying legal claim is settled nor that it has a reasonable probability of success on the merits. “The Court wrote that ‘[t]he State has presented no explanation for how it is tangibly or actually harmed by allowing same-sex couples to marry,’” explained MEUSA Legal & Policy Director John Lewis. “Rather, the Court determined that same-sex couples and their families suffer ‘immediate and concrete violations of [the] right to equal protection under the law’ and an ‘ongoing injury that … cannot be repaired … at a later time.’” The Court did note that marriages which take place between Monday and their ruling in the state’s appeal theoretically later could be nullified should it later find in favor of the state. While today’s strongly worded opinion bolsters our conviction that the Supreme Court will uphold the lower court’s ruling and let these marriages stand, the possibility of reversal illuminates why it is imperative for marriage equality supporters in New Jersey to continue calling and urging legislators to overturn Governor Christie’s veto of the marriage equality bill the legislature already passed. A favorable Supreme Court ruling, albeit likely, is not certain, and in any case is not expected before sometime in 2014; a legislative victory still could be accomplished first, as if the veto is to be overridden, this must be accomplished by the end of 2013. “Today’s decision provides tremendous momentum at a key moment in our movement,” said MEUSA Executive Director Brian Silva. “Meanwhile, Marriage Equality USA and our project, the National Equality Action Team (NEAT), are working every day to make the freedom to marry a reality in New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois, and nationwide. From Marriage Equality USA’s National Map page Over 30% of Americans live in states with full, state-level equality, and 50% of Americans live in 22 states (or counties or cities) that recognize various forms of same- gender relationships: 15 with full marriage (CA, CT, DC, DE, IA, MA, MD, ME, MN, NH, NJ, NY, RI, VT, WA); 03 with civil union (CO, HI, IL); 04 with domestic partnership (NV, NM, OR, WI). __ 22 states (or counties or cities) that recognize various forms of same- gender relationships. From Marriage Equality USA’s Current Status pages Since 1993, every American state has taken some position on marriage equality. Each state allows — or bans — various forms of marriage via the state constitution and/or state laws. Some states have full marriage equality, some have restricted equality, and the rest ban all unions except one-man-one-woman couples. About 70 federal and state marriage-related lawsuits are underway nationwide. In 2013, lawmakers, judges, and voters in most states, as well as federal judges and Congress, are deciding whether to allow — or ban — various levels of equality.
Twenty years after the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay couples seeking marriage licenses, a decision subsequently overturned by voters, Hawaii is on the cusp of becoming the 14th marriage equality state. Gov. Neil Abercrombie has called a special session of the Hawaii legislature to consider marriage equality legislation to begin October 28th. Marriage Equality USA’s National Equality Action Team (NEAT) will be mobilizing out-of-state marriage equality volunteers from the Western states as well as night owls from other states to staff phone banks to call likely supporters in Hawaii during a national “night of action” on Thursday, October 24th starting at 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET. Volunteers can sign up to participate in the October 24th night of action or other NEAT actions at the NEAT website. The NEAT coalition was initially formed in the Spring of 2013 to follow up on the extraordinary success of MEUSA's work with 20 organizations that helped bring about the historic ballot victories in the Fall 2012 in winning marriage in Maryland, Washington, and Maine, and helped defeat an anti-gay marriage amendment in Minnesota. NEAT is now about 50 organizations strong and provides support for all active state marriage campaigns (legislative or ballot initiatives). NEAT callers reach out to voters in districts whose state legislators have not yet confirmed support for marriage equality bills. After determining that a voter does indeed support marriage equality, the phone bank caller can immediately connect them to their respective legislator’s voice-mail where they can identify themselves as a constituent and urge the legislator to support marriage equality bills. MEUSA Executive Director Brian Silva says, “Since 1991, Hawaii has been at the forefront of the fight for equal rights for LGBT families. Today, MEUSA takes another important step as an early member of the 'Hawaii United for Marriage' coalition by organizing supporters across the country to take action in support of our friends and family in the Aloha State." To volunteer at an in-person phone bank, location of your choosing, or from the comfort of your own home, simply sign up at the NEAT website. Phone banking from your own home is at no additional cost to you; the phone calls are made via your computer and existing Internet connection rather than via your land-line, long-distance, or mobile telephone service.
[caption id="attachment_443" align="alignleft" width="300"] Volunteers and staff from MEUSA pose with New Jersey United for Marriage staff before spending time canvassing[/caption] Marriage Equality USA Executive Director Brian Silva and eight other volunteers spent October 5th in Summit, New Jersey, canvassing in support of New Jersey United for Marriage (NJUM) - the campaign to win marriage in that state. This action was part of the National Equality Action Team (NEAT), MEUSA's newest initiative to draw together winning coalitions of marriage equality supporters. As New Jersey moves toward marriage equality, Gov. Chris Christie continues to oppose full equality for all citizens of the state. "Gov. Christie's aggressive style will only strengthen our resolve," says Silva. MEUSA's NYC-ROC will be back in Northern New Jersey on Oct. 16th and 26th. According to Silva, "This was our first time canvassing in New Jersey and we had quite a positive response." MEUSA also is looking forward to its Philadelphia ROC hosting a similar event November 10th as part of the NEAT initiative. Bob Sullivan, Philadelphia ROC local organizer said, "We expect the same positive reaction in South Jersey. The Philadelphia ROC is getting involved because South Jersey is suburban Philadelphia and most people do as much business down the shore or across the Delaware River as they do here in Philadelphia. We're fighting for marriage equality here in Pennsylvania and it's important to us that our marriages be recognized whether we live, travel do, or do business in Pennsylvania, Delaware, or New Jersey. We're going to fight for the support we need to override Gov. Christie's veto." More information can be found at www.theneat.org.
Marriage Equality USA has launched a new project – the National Equality Action Team (NEAT). According to MEUSA Program Manager Tracy Hollister, the new project was conceived by the organization’s executive director, Brian Silva. Chaired by Marriage Equality USA, NEAT is envisioned as a vehicle for national, state, local, and grassroots organizations, as well as individual organizers, to mobilize out-of-state marriage equality supporters in states with active marriage campaigns. These actions are done in coordination with, and with the support of, the local state campaigns. “Thousands of Americans who passionately support the cause of marriage equality find themselves living in a state without an active campaign and their passion lies dormant,” says Holister. NEAT now provides the opportunity for these advocates to connect with and support organizations in states like New Jersey and Illinois that have ongoing campaigns for marriage equality. Silva adds, “NEAT is a continuation of our work in winning campaigns in Minnesota, Maine, Maryland, Washington, Rhode Island, and Delaware.” In 2012, MEUSA mobilized many local, state, and national organizations to support the victorious efforts in those states and paved the way for the formation of NEAT. NEAT organizations are asked to support ongoing campaigns by recruiting volunteers from their own ranks and beyond via at-home phone banks, in-person phone banks such as those in New York City and Raleigh, and through canvassing – knocking on doors. These volunteers are then enlisted to support any ongoing marriage equality campaign as devised and run by the state-based organization. NEAT member benefits include e-mail alerts with details on how marriage equality supporters can get involved, resources to participate in campaigns, training for those who want to organize local events, such as phone banks, and the opportunity to be part of the national effort to win marriage equality nationwide. Christine Allen, MEUSA’s IT director, sums up the NEAT project as follows – “The National Equality Action Team epitomizes MEUSA’s commitment to working in cooperative coalition. Forget struggling in isolation or reinventing the wheel for the four hundredth time! It makes so much more sense for a variety of organizations and individuals to pool our resources, our brains, our experiences, and to enjoy each other’s company while accomplishing needed work. The other thing that is unique about NEAT is that it makes it possible for people to do remote phone banking from home. Do you have any idea how important that is to LGBT/allied folks who may not have a local community? Or, to people who are unable to get out of their homes to events and actions? Or to busy folks who are juggling full-time jobs and parenting? NEAT provides a way for everyone to get involved – people who are often not included can contribute and be a part of creating history.” The almost 50 NEAT coalition members include faith-based groups like Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, Maryland, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh, North Carolina, and the United Church of Christ; national and local chapters of LGBTQ organizations such as PFLAG, GLAAD, and HRC; and political groups like the Log Cabin Republicans, the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens, and Lambda Independent Democrats – Brooklyn. “NEAT integrates MEUSA’s whole vision of empowering all advocates of marriage equality with its own mission of recruiting advocates to execute specific actions in ongoing campaigns,” says Hollister. Adds Silva, "This puts us on the path toward winning full marriage equality in all 50 states." Visit the National Equality Action Team website to learn more and to sign up to help bring marriage equality to all fifty states.
[caption id="attachment_424" align="alignleft" width="300"] Brian Silva, PA Rep. Brian Sims, Bob Sullivan (MEUSA Philly Local Organizer) at the rally after Rep. Sims spoke of the need for marriage equality in PA[/caption] Saturday afternoon, Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA) and a number of civil rights organizations rallied at Logan Circle in Philadelphia to invigorate the late-blooming advocacy efforts for LGBT rights in Pennsylvania. Apart from raising awareness of LGBT issues, the rally marked the inaugural event for MEUSA’s newly formed Philadelphia Regional Organizing Committee (Philly–ROC) — the first local organization in the Liberty City that focuses on marriage equality issues. With Pennsylvania lagging far behind its neighboring states on LGBT rights issues — being the only Northeastern state without any form of same-sex marriage or civil union recognition — the expansion by MEUSA of the new organization is a welcome addition to LGBT advocacy groups in the Keystone State. Its strategic location in the state would certainly boost marriage equality efforts across the eastern region, with Marriage Equality for Pennsylvania (ME4PA) at present mainly having a larger presence in the western part of the state. “Because Bill and I were married in Vermont in 2009, and have moved back home to Philadelphia since, it's important for us to work for the continuity among the states; this way when we go from state to state, we don't have to figure out if we're married or not. Now that we have an established Philly–ROC, we can bring the national agenda to our hometown, where American personal liberty were first created. The community of Philadelphia is embarassed about the current state of Pennsylvania, particularly that our neighbors have already come on board, and now it's our time,” said Bob Sullivan, local organizer for Philly–ROC. The crowd was particularly energized to have two state representatives who amid busy schedules attended and spoke at the event: Rep. Mark Cohen, a long-time ally for the LGBT community, and Rep. Brian Sims, the first openly-gay representative in Pennsylvania. Rep. Brian Sims was honored with Equality Award by ME4PA for his outspoken advocacy on LGBT equality issues, including introducing marriage equality legislation with Rep. Steve McCarter following the Supreme Court’s rulings in June, and a legislation banning anti-gay conversion therapy for minors with Rep. Gerald Mullery. Coinciding with college campus day, the festive event attracted a lively student crowd, who among the hundreds of attendees signed up as new members for the various organizations. With New Jersey’s judge ruling on allowing same-sex marriage just announced the day before, the crowd was optimistic about the possibility of joining the ranks of their suburban neighbor in the fight for equality. “I could not be more proud of our grassroots leaders who have worked so hard to launch Philly–ROC,” said MEUSA Executive Director Brian Silva. “We know we cannot do it alone and I am looking forward to supporting our partners in Pennsylvania.” [caption id="attachment_425" align="alignright" width="300"] Brian Silva, Robert Sargent (GetEqual) and Janice Rael (Delaware Valley Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State or DVAU)[/caption] The event was co-sponsored by MEUSA, ME4PA, the Delaware Valley Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (DVAU), and The Summit Coalition of LGBT Activists and Allies. It drew a long list of speakers from local to national organizations such as the Human Resource Campaign (HRC) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Among the speakers were Brian Silva (Executive director of MEUSA), David Moore (President and founder of ME4PA), Bob Sullivan (local organizer for Philly–ROC), Tom Hall (organizer for the rally), Janice Rael (local leader for DVAU), and John Hanger (Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate). For more information or to get involved with Philly–ROC, visit http://www.marriageequality.org/philly.
Media Director Stuart Gaffney (415) 378-3259 email@example.com Executive Director Brian Silva (347) 913-6369 firstname.lastname@example.org Program Director Tracy Hollister (919) 610-8477 email@example.com New York • 3 October 2013 ― Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA) is launching the National Equality Action Team (NEAT), a coalition of almost 50 local, state and national organizations and individual organizers mobilizing volunteers to win the freedom to marry in states with active marriage equality campaigns. Volunteers are able to sign up on the NEAT website to join events near them and also to phone bank from virtually anywhere. "The National Equality Action Team is unique in that it gives passionate marriage equality advocates across the country -- especially those in marriage equality states who want to pay it forward -- a chance to play an important role in our national movement to win the freedom to marry," said MEUSA Program Director Tracy Hollister. "NEAT shows what organizations and individuals can do when we come together as a coalition to empower our community to take individual action in support of all 50 states," said Marriage Equality USA Executive Director Brian Silva. "Until everyone can marry the person they love, we all have work to do." "NEAT is a continuation of our work over the past year in winning campaigns in Minnesota, Maine, Maryland, Washington, Rhode Island and Delaware, where we hosted almost 150 phone banks and made approximately 100,000 calls for marriage equality," said MEUSA Board President Jane Wishon. "Our goal is to continue this work and leverage our communities' collective power to secure marriage equality by working side by side with our NEAT partners." NEAT Coalition Members - NEAT at http://www.theneat.org 1199 SEIU LGBTQ CAUCUS ACLU of Southern California Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation American Humanist Association Broadway Impact Brooklyn Community Pride Center Campaign for Southern Equality Center for Inquiry - New York City Democracy for New York City Dignity New York Empire State Pride Agenda Equality Beyond Gender Equality California Equality Maryland Equality News Network| Faith In America Freedom to Marry Geeks OUT GetEQUAL GLAAD Human Rights Campaign - Greater New York Human Rights Campaign - Triangle (NC) Human Rights Campaign (National) Indiana Equality Individual Organizer - Jana Clark (RI) Individual Organizer - Sherry Henderson (NC) Lambda Independent Democrats – Brooklyn Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens (LGDCQ) LGBT Community Center of New York City Log Cabin Republicans Marriage Equality USA Metropolitan Community Churches Public Policy Team National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) National Gay and Lesbian Task Force National Organization for Women People For the American Way PFLAG - New York City PFLAG - Triangle North Carolina Swish The Center Long Beach The LOFT LGBT Community Services Center The Marry Me Movement United Church of Christ
In California's Central Valley, MEUSA has been supporting a coalition of organizations to fight an attempt by the Porterville City Council to discriminate against the LGBTQ population. MEUSA's local organizer Melissa McMurrey has been at the forefront of a campaign to restore the city of Porterville's official designation of the month of June as "Pride Month," honoring those in the community who have made contributions to the city. Originally proclaimed by Porterville Mayor Virginia Gurolla, the designation was later rescinded in a 3-2 anti-LGBTQ vote by the city council. Following the rescission, the city council proceeded to remove the mayor from office. Following a 150+ participant rally in front of town hall, McMurrey continues to work with others to build a coalition and work to restore the designation and make the community a better place for its LGBTQ residents.
By Kirsten Berzon As a proud Oakland resident since the young age of 4, I never would have thought growing up that I would be attending an Oakland Pride event. Now in its 4th year, the event attracts over 50,000 people, as diverse as Oakland itself- families with children in tow, cowboys, drag queens, hipsters, high school students, and lavender seniors. Labor Day weekend was once again a celebration of LGBT Pride in downtown Oakland and Marriage Equality USA was there. While we celebrate the historic recent repeal of Prop 8 and Section 3 of DOMA, there are still 37 states where LGBT people cannot marry the person they love; for those people we remain dedicated to the battle ahead. [caption id="attachment_348" align="alignright" width="300"] One of the many groups photographed at the MEUSA booth during Oakland Pride[/caption] Marriage Equality USA was engaged in getting the word out about the battleground states to watch in the near future and signing up new members who want to take part in the work ahead. The booth also included complimentary photography by Levi Smith Photography, complete with handmade signage such as "We Are A Loving Couple, Love Makes a Family," etc. In the end, Levi photographed nearly 40 groups including groups of friends, long term couples, and parents and their children, all of whom were excited to take part in the photo booth which is a testament to the diversity of our community. Mark your calendar for Labor Day weekend 2014 and join Marriage Equality USA at Oakland Pride. You'll be glad you did.
[caption id="attachment_242" align="alignright" width="300"] Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (right) and MEUSA Board Chair Jane Wishon[/caption] With presentations by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and proclamations from California Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA) hosted its first-ever Los Angeles Awards Reception on August 10. For pictures, event journal, and videos, go to www.marriageequality.org/la-awards. "We came together in LA at an historic moment to celebrate the Supreme Court’s marriage rulings and rededicate ourselves to making marriage equality a reality in all 50 states," said Brian Silva, Marriage Equality USA Executive Director. "It was extraordinarily successful." The event, which raised funds to help MEUSA fight for full marriage equality in all 50 states, brought together over 100 supporters and political, corporate, entertainment and community leaders at Union Station's Traxx Restaurant. Guests were treated to the sounds of legendary performer Irene Soderberg and musical team Sharper Image. Hosted by The Real L Word actress and advocate Raquel Castaneda, MEUSA presented awards to Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin (Ally Honoree), Robert John Russo Gallery (Corporate Honree) and Latino Equality Alliance (Community Partner Honoree). Each of the honorees have been longtime partners and supporters of both the issue of marriage equality, and MEUSA. "It is a great honor to receive an award from Marriage Equality USA, which has been integral in the fight to secure legally recognized civil marriage equality for all," said Controller Ron Galperin. "There is still much work to be done, however, to overcome discrimination and intolerance -- in California, nationally and internationally. I salute Marriage Equality USA for its great achievements and for its ongoing work and resolve." [caption id="attachment_241" align="alignleft" width="270"] Ari Gutierrez of Latino Equality Alliance accepts the Community Partner award surrounded by family, friends and LEA members.[/caption] "We are honored to be recognized by an organization such as Marriage Equality USA which has been, for almost 20 years, at the forefront of the fight to bring equality and fairness to all loving and committed California couples," commented Ari Gutierrez of the Latino Equality Alliance. “We are also celebrating many years of successful partnership between our organizations to advance LGBT equality.” Additional special guests included State Senator Ricardo Lara, Proposition 8 plaintiff's Jeff Zarillo & Paul Katami, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, West Hollywood Mayor Abbe Land, Long Beach Vice Mayor Robert Garcia, actor and GLAAD National Spokesperson Wilson Cruz, former Los Angeles Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, Los Angeles Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Mitch O'Farell and West Hollywood Councilmember John Heilman. By MEUSA Executive Director Brian Silva