With marriage cases quickly progressing through the courts across the country, Freedom to Marry announced plans to expand its campaign to bring marriage to loving, gay couples in the South. Earlier this year, the group formed Southerners for the Freedom to Marry, a public education effort that includes grassroots organizing, paid advertising, and digital strategy. This work now includes significant partnerships with Campaign for Southern Equality, Tennessee Equality Project and the Fairness Campaign of Kentucky.
“The marriage conversation has come to every corner of the country, including Kentucky and Tennessee, and together with our strong new partners, Freedom to Marry wants to ensure that the voices of families and supporters are heard alongside the judges who are ruling in their favor,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry. “The South is home to hundreds of thousands of loving, committed same-sex couples – and to a majority of the more than 70 federal marriage cases now underway in courts across the nation. Growing southern support will add to the momentum that will end marriage discrimination nationwide.”
A record-high Washington Post poll found that 50 percent of Southerners support marriage for same-sex couples. In Tennessee and Kentucky, federal judges have invoked constitutional guarantees of equal protection, concluding these states must respect the marriages of same-sex couples performed in other states. The rulings are now on appeal before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway joined other state attorneys general in several states by concluding that the state’s marriage discrimination could not be defended under the Constitution.
“We’re proud of our strong partnership with Freedom to Marry as we strive to achieve marriage equality all across the South,” said Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality. “Southerners now support the freedom to marry at unprecedented levels as they understand how their friends and neighbors are personally harmed by discriminatory marriage bans. Our WE DO Campaign tells the stories of loving, committed couples who seek to marry, and Freedom to Marry’s longstanding support is instrumental in this effort.”
The new partnerships will provide greater opportunities to tell compelling stories of unlikely supporters and convey that marriage for gay couples is in sync with American values of freedom and family.
The $1 million Southerners for the Freedom to Marry effort launched in partnership with 16 state and regional Southern equality organizations in February 2014.
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