For the 13th year in a row LGBT activists plan to use Thursday, February 14 to bring attention to the fight for marriage equality.
Demonstrators will request marriage licenses from San Francisco’s city clerk inside City Hall at noon during what has become a Valentine’s Day ritual. Marriage Equality USA members plan to make similar requests at clerk offices around the country.
During the 2004 day of action in San Francisco the protesting couples were surprised to be greeted by city officials officiating same-sex weddings under the orders of then Mayor Gavin Newsom.
The actions during what became dubbed the “Winter of Love” sparked an international conversation about same-sex marriage. It also laid the groundwork for a series of court rulings and the voter amendment known as Proposition 8. In March the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case seeking to strike down California’s anti-gay marriage law.
“The struggle for marriage equality is a critical element in the broader movement for full equality under the law. Denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry undermines their dignity as human beings and excludes them from over 1,000 rights and protections under federal law,” stated Billy Bradford of Marriage Equality USA and GetEQUAL.
There will also be a Twitter-based action all day Thursday. The Respect for Marriage Coalition will be profiling the stories of same-sex couples from around the country on the social media platform using the hashtag #Time4Marriage.
The group is asking backers of marriage equality to tweet their support by using the hashtag “on Valentine’s Day and every day.”
“Gay and non-gay, we all deserve the freedom to make a lifetime commitment to the person we love. And we will stay engaged and work hard until all marriages are respected and all loving and committed couples can share in the freedom to marry throughout our country,” stated Freedom to Marry President and Coalition co-chair Evan Wolfson.
One of the couples being profiled as part of the campaign will be Ron Wallen and Tom Carrollo, who recently died, of Palm Springs. The veterans were married after a 55-year relationship in California in 2008 before Prop 8’s passage.
But because of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages sanctioned by states, Wallen is unable to access Social Security survivor benefits and has faced the loss of the home he shared with Carrollo.
“I should be allowed as the surviving spouse to have the larger of the two social security benefits just like any other surviving spouse,” stated Wallen.
In March the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case from New York that is challenging the constitutionality of DOMA’s restriction on federal benefits for LGBT married couples. The ruling in that case and the Prop 8 lawsuit are expected by June.
“The nation is ready to fully recognize the love that so many gay and lesbian couples share,” stated Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign and coalition co-chair. “Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love – and I hope we take the opportunity to reflect on how we can extend the promise of equality to all Americans.”