LGBT Orgs: Make Change, Not Lawsuits
As the date for marriage equality nears in the Golden State, four LGBT legal organizations, including Freedom To Marry, and five other leading national LGBT groups have issued a press release and primer (PDF) on marriage equality strategy called "Make Change, Not Lawsuits."
It's a supportive, yet cautionary explanation that says couples who go to California to marry should ask friends, neighbors and institutions to honor their marriages, but that suing in a state where there is a marriage amendment or other legal restrictions such as a state DOMA may set the fight for marriage back. The full release is below the fold.
This is good information to distribute to people thinking of tying the knot in California.
Now that we've won marriage in California, should we be bringing cases in other states or suing the federal government? If not, what can we do to help secure the freedom to marry nationwide?
Bottom Line. If you're ready and it's right for you, get married in California. If you do, claim the name and act like what you are_married. But don't go suing right away. Most lawsuits will likely set us all back. There are other ways to fight which are more likely to win.
Summary: The fastest way to win the freedom to marry throughout America is by getting marriage through state courts (to show that fairness requires it) and state legislatures (to show that people support it). We need to start with states where we have the best odds of winning. When we've won in a critical mass of states, we can turn to Congress and the federal courts. At that point, we'll ask that the U.S. government treat all marriages equally. And we'll ask that all states give equal treatment to all marriages and civil unions that are celebrated in other states.
Couples who want to should get married, call themselves married, and ask (sometimes demand) that family, friends, neighbors, businesses, employers and the community treat their marriages with respect. Making the marriages of same-sex couples a conspicuous part of American society will help us get something we'll need to win ultimately: public acceptance of equal treatment for lesbian and gay families. [A word to the wise: getting married could have unintended and damaging consequences for some people. If you are in the military, on a visa, thinking about adopting or getting government benefits, you should talk to a lawyer who knows that area, or get in touch with one of the legal organizations]
There are many things people can and should do-urgently-to get marriage nationwide. Working together we can defend the transformative wins in Massachusetts and California and build on them until we win equality, liberty and justice for all.