The End of DOMA Will Be the Start of a Dream For This Binational Same-Sex Couple

This story submitted by Suseel (UK) and Aga (Poland/USA) demonstrates how the abolition of Section 3 of DOMA will tranfsorm the lives of binational married same-sex couples.
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Dear Gay Marriage USA,

I would like to share my story with you! My name is Suseel, I am a British born Indian, a citizen of Great Britain. My beautiful partner is Aga, she has dual nationality of Polish and American. We both live in England. We met through a mutual friend almost two years ago and we fell in love almost instantly. She was planning to move back to the USA a month before we got in a relationship because her family all live there.

But once we were together, we’d become inseparable. The thought of her leaving England and leaving me behind was heartbreaking. So we decided for her to stay with me, regardless of her own heart ache of being without her family. This internal tug of war of guilt and selfishness was brewing inside me. She had to be without her family so she could be with me, alone in England. This became a true struggle for us. The only thing that gave us any solace was your facebook page!

We’ve spent many nights talking about how great it would be if DOMA and prop 8 would be eradicated. Aga would be reunited with her family finally, but this time have me beside her! We’ve been watching the progress of DOMA through your facebook page and kept us filled with hope and today finally! We’ve had our dreams come true!! We are due to be civilly partnered on Saturday 17th August, this year in England! And by next year we’ll be together, with my new family in America, reminiscing today.

Many thanks,

Suseel

For info on how DOMA previously impacted on binational same-sex couples, please see this article: Binational Same-Sex Married Couples to Benefit From a Favorable DOMA Ruling
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One Year Anniversary Story: How Our Love Started and Almost Ended All in One Day

Mike and Matt from Philadelphia today celebrate their one year anniversary. This is their love story.

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Dear Gay Marriage USA,

My name is Mike I have seen you post pictures of happy couples for a while and I am more than happy to tell you about my boyfriend I and how our love started and almost ended forever all in one day.

A year to the day, June 11, 2012  leaving Philadelphia Gay Pride, my boyfriend Matt was struck by a car that was going 60 miles per hour. We were just leaving a romantic, fun filled and amazing weekend on the boat. As we crossed the street, I saw him be thrown 30 feet in the air and dragged across the intersection in Philadelphia. I ran over to him and his breathless and pulse less and bloody body I held in my arms yelling his name hoping to see him open his eyes himself. As I was about to do CPR he opened his eyes and said my name eventually screaming it for me not to leave his side. I’m an EMT and therefore kept him stable until the ambulance came.

He was taken to the local trauma center where upon arrival, I was pushed back at the doors depsite him yelling for me. I sat waiting on news of whether or not he was going to be okay. Finally, I was able to go back to see him. Bloody, scraped, and battered he was still alive and wouldn’t let go of my hand. I had never met his parents until I called them myself to give them the news. I met them in the trauma bay for the first time.

I went to the hospital to see him each of the 10 days he was in there recovering. On day 5 he asked me to be his boyfriend. Without knowing how long it would take until he would walk again I said yes. Summer 2012 was spent pushing him around in his wheelchair and helping him get back on his feet.

Today, one year later, he and I are going strong. Many obstacles have come our way but pure, equal, unconditional love is what has got us through. I would LOVE for you to share our story to show that pure love is equal. I love him so much and would love for him to see this tomorrow or sometime this week.

After losing my parents at nine, I buried the woman who raised me, my grandmother due to Lung cancer. This year has tested us beyond comprehension but despite all, we are both finishing our degrees in Nursing and planning an amazing life together.

The passing of gay marriage will allow Matt and I to have full rights and face the challenges life throws at us together forever. Young gay couples (we are 21 and 22) know what it is like to face this worlds adversity against Gay Marriage.

Thank you for your time and thank you for this amazing page for all that you do.

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Wedding Story: Rosie and Becky Married in Missouri 5/26/13

Wedding story as submitted by Rosie & Becky:

My name is Becky. I am the one in the wedding dress. My wife’s name is Rosie. She is my best friend and soul mate. We are so blessed that we were able to have a ceremony at our Unity Church here in Branson, MO. Our marriage is not legal in Missouri yet but maybe one day it will be. Till then we will keep up the good fight for our equal rights. I just thought I would share some photos from our wedding yesterday on May 26th 2013. Thank you for all you do. Sincerely, Becky
 
 
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* If you have a wedding story to share please email your info to: GayMarriageUSA[at]gmail.com
 
 
 
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Tim and Keith Spent 20 Years Together But Their Marriage Meant Nothing When Keith Died

Tim (left) and Keith (right) married in July 2009 in Provincetown, MA after 18 years together. Sadly, in September 2012 Keith passed away unexpectedly and what happened to Tim thereafter is outlined below. This story was submitted to GMUSA by Tim and his words are featured here. His experience is yet another stunning and tragic example of why federal marriage equality is so important.

As sad as this story is, it is but one of many that plays out each year across America as married same-sex couples continue to face discrimination and oppression. While the USA continues to allow certain states to ignore the validity of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, and while the federal goverment continues to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which denies legally married gay couples federal marriage rights and benefits, we will continue to learn of these tragedies.

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In 2009 life was in a wonderful cadence. We relocated back to the USA from Europe: Keith had completed his MBA and my work with global medical missions were taking shape and making a difference.

So, that summer we married on the beach in the evening with our two labradors. We often said to each other, “the earth was made round so we can not see what is ahead of us.” Little did we know that life was about to take such a tragic turn.

Keith passed away suddenly in September 2012, in upstate NY while living with his parents recovering in the mountains from a recent stay in a rehabilitation center.

For the 20 + years we were together we spent time and money to assure that should something happen to either of us, we would be taken care of, that our families would not be able to challenge our commitment and our wishes: Wills, Health Care Proxies, Power of Attorneys, etc.

Unfortunately, because we were living in PA our marriage was not recognized and Keith’s family ignored his will, changed beneficiaries and took many of our belongings and possessions.

This is the reality of not having national recognition of marriage for all. Had we been a heterosexual married couple, this would never have happened and the courts would have intervened. Instead, I am forced to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees to get back what was mine and Keith’s wishes.

Keith’s family has ignored me after 20 years, therein ignoring our relationship, marriage and my existence.

Read Keith’s obituary here.

** If you have a marriage story that you would like to share, please send it via email to: GayMarriageUSA[at]gmail.com

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The Top 10 Arguments Against Gay Marriage: All Receive Failing Grades! (Long Version)

This article summarizes the Top 10 most common arguments against same-sex marriage and outlines why each one deserves a failing grade. Although not listed in a strict order, the sequence of the ten arguments presented in some ways corresponds with the increasing level of desperation displayed by opponents of marriage equality in their efforts to thwart the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Context: The Quest for Marriage Equality

Both in the USA and around the world, the quest for marriage equality is gaining momentum. Between December 2012 and May 2013 an additional six American states (MD, ME, WA, RI, DE, MN) introduced marriage equality laws bringing to twelve the number of states that permit gay marriage. Same-sex marriage is also legal in the nation’s capital. Internationally, four more countries have legalized gay marriage in recent months – three via national legislatures (Uruguay, New Zealand, France) and one (Brazil) through legal action. There are now fifteen countries in total that offer federal marriage equality.

While support for the legalization of same-sex marriage in the U.S.A. and internationally is growing there remains opposition to it. In thirty-eight American states  same-sex couples cannot legally marry. Moreover, same-sex marriages in the states that permit them are not recognized by the federal government courtesy of the woefully discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. DOMA denies same-sex married couples access to the more than one thousand federal rights and benefits associated with marriage.  Globally, same-sex marriage is not legal in the vast majority of the world’s nations.

Listening to the recent marriage equality debates in legislatures in Rhode Island, Delaware, and Minnesota was like hitting the “repeat” button multiple times over.  One by one, opponents of equality regurgitated the same tedious arguments against same-sex marriage that had already been heard – and debunked – in various other states and countries beforehand.  Whether it’s here in the USA or overseas, those in opposition to gay marriage push the same flawed arguments repeatedly, recycling and rehashing them in a desperate effort to block progress.

1. Nature: “It’s Not Natural” (FAIL) 

The most basic argument presented by gay marriage opponents purports that marriage between two people of the same sex is “not natural” and is in violation of the “natural order.” In this sense, the argument doesn’t really even relate to marriage but rather to non-acceptance of the biological nature of homosexuality. “It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” the opponents quip. At this level of the debate there is very little exploration of the inherent validity (or otherwise) of same-sex marriage but rather a fixation on the notion that homosexuality is inherently “wrong.”

In reality, marriage is a societal institution that has no direct connection with nature. The natural world didn’t create marriage, humans did. Nature-themed arguments against gay marriage say little about the societal institution of marriage but reveal a lot about the homophobia and heterosexism of those who present such arguments. In this regard, the opposition isn’t toward gay marriage per se – it’s toward homosexuality, period.

2. Procreation: “Marriage is for Procreation” (FAIL) 

An often-expressed argument against same-sex marriage relates to procreation. Opponents of equality argue that the institution of marriage is essentially in place to assist with procreation and the raising of children. They argue that because two people of the same sex cannot procreate that they should not be allowed to marry.

This argument denies the reality that while the production of children may indeed be a feature of many heterosexual marriages the capacity to procreate does not determine the legal validity of such marriages. There are many straight couples who cannot biologically have children or who choose not to have children. Should they be forced to divorce? Or prevented from marrying in the first place? No. The procreation argument ignores the fact that people marry for a wide range of reasons that have nothing to do with procreation such as love, friendship, companionship, and life stability.

 3. Religion: “It’s Against My Religion” (FAIL) 

Religion is a recurring theme in many arguments against the legalization of gay marriage. This is not surprising given the manner in which many conservative divisions of Christianity, Islam and Judaism demonize homosexuality in general. In the U.S.A., Christianity-based arguments lead the way in efforts to oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage. References to the Bible, the “sinful” nature of homosexuality, and “religious beliefs” are regularly made by those who seek to rationalize their support of discrimination via religion. Marriage is a religious institution, they argue, and not one for society to tamper with.

Given that the U.S.A. is a secular nation, religion should play no role in any discussion about civil and societal laws. Marriage is not owned by any society or by any religion or church. In America marriage is first and foremost a socio-legal institution: try getting legally married without obtaining a marriage license from the state. In order to get legally married there is absolutely no requirement for a religious ceremony to be held. In this sense, marriage is not a religious institution. Yes, people are free to maintain their religious beliefs in regards to marriage, but those beliefs should never be enshrined in laws in ways that restrict the freedom of other people who do not share those beliefs. Freedom of religion is also freedom from religion.

4. Redefintion: “You are Trying to Redefine the Institution” (FAIL)

The redefinition argument appears regularly in debates about same-sex marriage. Opponents argue that marriage has always been between a man and a woman and that it should stay that way. They say that efforts to legalize same-sex marriage will fundamentally alter the institution and they present this position as though the institution of marriage has never been altered at any time during history. They catastrophize that allowing gay couples to marry will somehow lead to the collapse of society and civilization as we know it. Apparently, nothing in society should ever be changed.

Seemingly, those who push this line of thought are residing in some kind of time warp that ignores history. Marriage laws in the U.S.A. and in countries across the globe have been changed and modified repeatedly in response to evolving cultural norms and standards. There was a time when women were the legal property of their husbands. There was a time when a man and woman of different races couldn’t marry each other. There was even a time when not one country in the world had legalized same-sex marriage! Removing discrimination from the institution of marriage is not redefining it but making it more accessible and fair.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in the Netherlands since 2001 and from last reports the country is still on the map and still functioning. Massachusetts legalized gay marriage in 2004 and it’s still up and running also! To argue against the legalization of gay marriage using the “redefinition” argument is deeply flawed because it denies the fact that same-sex marriage is already legal in various states and countries. It dismisses the reality that society progresses, changes and evolves over time and marriage, as in institution in society, should not be excluded from this process of change. This argument also ignores the fact that no state or country that has legalized same-sex marriage has suffered any negative societal consequences for doing so.

5. Sanctity: “It’s a Threat to the Sanctity of (Opposite-Sex) Marriage” (FAIL)

With roots in religion, the sanctity argument posits that marriage is a “sacred” institution that only heterosexual couples should have access to. It’s another anti-equality position that gets rehashed repeatedly in marriage equality debates. Somehow (nobody knows how exactly) allowing same-sex couples to marry poses a “threat” to “traditional marriage” as though somehow heterosexual married couples will all be at risk of divorcing when two people of the same sex marry each other.

There is a deep arrogance, sense of entitlement and selfishness evident in those who promote the “sanctity” argument. They speak as though they own the institution of marriage, as though they have the exclusive right to determine who can and cannot enter it, and as though relationships between people of the same-sex are inherently inferior. The suggestion that same-sex couples will somehow tarnish the institution by being able to get married is insulting and offensive. The only straight married couples impacted by the legalization of gay marriage are those in which one of the parties is a closet-case gay person who dreams of coming out and marrying someone of the same sex!

If those who use the “sanctity” argument were genuinely concerned about the institution of marriage they’d be investing their time, money and energy helping those straight married couples who are at risk of divorcing. If marriage was so sacred, they’d be pursuing the outlawing of heterosexual divorce. The fact they do none of these things reveals the driving forces behind their opposition to gay marriage: homophobia and heterosexism. Their efforts to deny same-sex couples access to marriage laws are extremely misguided.

6. Children: “It Will Harm the Children” (FAIL)

One of the most emotive arguments presented in opposition to gay marriage is the notion that allowing same-sex couples to marry will somehow harm children. From this perspective, opponents of equality (advocates of discrimination) frequently make use of flawed research studies to suggest that children have worse social outcomes when parented in households led by same-sex couples.  The insinuation is that all children need a “mom and a dad” in order to flourish in life and that legalizing same-sex marriage denies children this opportunity of “normalcy.”

Multiple studies across the social sciences have repeatedly demonstrated that there is no difference in psychosocial outcomes between children raised by opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples. The American Psychological Asscociation (APA), the American Sociological Association (ASA), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has each endorsed the legalization of same-sex marriage and its capacity to provide a stable familial framework for children. There is no evidence whatsoever that children are psychologically harmed by having either two dads or two moms. It can be rightly argued, however, that such children are indeed harmed by the failure of many states and countries to allow the same-sex couples parenting these children the right to marry.

Divorce and relationship breakdown is a stressful human experience, especially for children negatively impacted by the separation of their parents. If opponents of marriage equality were as concerned about the wellbeing of “the children” as they claim to be they’d be investing considerable resources in helping to prevent the breakdown of heterosexual marriages. The fact that they don’t do that once again reveals a deeper homophobic or heterosexist motivation for their opposition to gay marriage.

The only children negatively impacted by same-sex marriage are those raised by straight parents who teach their children discriminatory and shame-based views about LGBT people and same-sex relationships. Thankfully, an increasing number of heterosexual parents and couples now understand the importance of teaching their children about the diversity that exists across humanity in regards to sexual orientation and human relationships.

7. Reverse Discrimination: “Straight People and Religious People Will Be Discriminated Against” (FAIL)

Those who oppose marriage equality frequently conjure up all kinds of dire scenarios in their efforts to frighten the straight majority into opposing the legalization of same-sex marriage. They describe a future in which straight people and religious people become the new “victims” of oppression. They talk of charity-based religious organizations being “forced out of business” for “sticking to their beliefs” about marriage. In this reverse scenario, gay people are apparently “hateful” for wanting to be treated equally in society. How dare we demand equal rights and criticize those who discriminate against us!

This reverse discrimination argument ignores the fact that in almost all countries and states that have legalized same-sex marriage, various religious protections have been built into legislation to ensure the maintenance of religious freedom. In no state of the U.S.A. in which gay marriage is legal is a church legally required to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. Religious groups and churches are still free to pick and choose who they will and won’t marry. Organizations that receive public money, however, and which must adhere to anti-discrimination laws accordingly, should rightly be singled out if they engage in discrimination against a protected class of people.

In essence, those who engage in this type of fear-mongering about reverse discrimination are basically projecting their own fear about a perceived loss of privilege and status, and the loss of their right to freely discriminate against others without consequences.  Religious freedom gives people the right to hold whatever beliefs they wish to and to privately practice their religion without governmental interference. It does not give people the right to publicly and legally deny freedoms to others in society based on one’s private and personal religious beliefs.

8. Slippery Slope: “It Will Lead to Marriage Involving Animals, Siblings, Children, or Groups of People!” (FAIL)

Slippery slopes arguments are an extreme version of the redefinition argument (number 4) whereby opponents argue that legalizing gay marriage will serve as a “gateway” for the legalization of marriage involving animals, siblings, children, or groups of people. People who present these scenarios portray a catastrophic future with society crumbling under the weight of rampant immorality and social discord. The hysteria generated by slippery slope arguments aims to confuse and frighten people and to distort reality. Completely devoid of facts, the slippery slope strategy is one which anti-gay organizations are very fond of employing.

Not surprisingly, these types of arguments have no basis in logic or reality. Suggesting that the institution of marriage (which involves two biologically unrelated adults forming a legal union) may one day embrace bestiality, incest, pedophilia and polygamy is absurd. These phenomena have no relevance to the definition of “marriage” as we know it. Efforts to legalize same-sex marriage simply aim to provide same-sex couples access to marriage laws – there is no intention to change the fundamental definition of marriage as the legal union between two adult human beings who have no direct biological connection with each other. Facts are useful in this regard: of the fifteen countries and twelve U.S. states that have legalized same-sex marriage, none of them has legalized marriage involving animals, children, siblings, or groups of people.

9. Civil Unions: “Civil Unions Are Good Enough” (FAIL)

Once the “civil unions” argument enters the marriage equality debate it’s usually an indication that opponents of equality are stating to realize the futility of their opposition. From this perspective, opponents of same-sex marriage support the creation of a “separate but equal” platform in which straight couples and gay couples receive the same relationship rights and benefits, but from within different institutional frameworks. They argue that “marriage” should be left exclusively for opposite-sex couples and that same-sex couples should be granted “civil unions.”  In some ways it’s a feeble attempt to appease people on both sides of the marriage equality debate.

Unfortunately, history and reality have shown that this “separate but equal” approach doesn’t work. Various countries (e.g. Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Canada, New Zealand, France) and American states (VT, CT, NH, RI, DE) which initially permitted “civil unions” for same-sex couples have subsequently enacted marriage equality legislation. The U.K. is also currently pursuing this change from civil unions to full marriage equality. These jurisdications have pursued such changes because civil union legislation, no matter how valiant the effort, is not able to provide the same rights and benefits as legal marriage.

Having a two-class system also continues to maintain the erroneous notion that one group (straight people) is more superior and worthy than another group (LGBT people). Culturally and symbolically the language of “civil unions” is not well understood by mainstream society. Saying one is “civilly unioned” hardly carries the same value and meaning that saying one is “married” does.  Support of civil union legislation is ultimately, therefore, support of discrimination.

10. States’ Rights: “States Have the Right to Oppose It” (FAIL) 

Opponents of equality that push the “states’ rights” argument have in many ways given up the fight and have started to accept the reality that same-sex marriage is now legal in an increasing number of of U.S. states (and various countries). This last-ditch effort to maintain opposition elevates the discussion to the level of the Constitution and the right of states to make their own decisions about the legalization of same-sex marriage. This is an attempt to justify, rationalize and defend the fact that in thirty-eight states of the U.S.A. same-sex couples cannot marry. Ironically, advocates of this argument almost always support the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This Act is essentially a tool that gives the federal government the power to dismiss the decisions of various states to legalize same-sex marriage and to deny the provision of federal rights and benefits to same-sex married couples.

There was a period in U.S. history in which some states had legalized interracial (opposite-sex) marriage while others had not. Would those who support state-by-state bans and laws for same-sex marriage support the idea of interracial opposite-sex couples being able to only marry in certain states and not others? No. Would they support a federal government decision to deny federal rights and benefits to interracial opposite-sex couples married in states that permit it? No. There should be no difference in the case of gay marriage. Ultimately, the U.S.A. has one Constitution and the right to liberty and justice should not change as one moves from state to state.

The maintenance of a system which allows some states to recognize same-sex marriage and others to not do so, and which allows the federal government to ignore legal same-sex marriages performed at the state level, sets up a cumbersome and extremely complicated national map of unequal rights and legal nightmares. Those who continue to maintain the argument that states should have the right to not legalize same-sex marriage should be consistent and acknowledge that states should also have the right to legalize it. Additionally, they should drop their support of a federal government act (DOMA) which essentially tramples states’ rights by blocking same-sex married couples from accessing federal rights and benefits associated with marriage.

Conclusion: Marriage Equality is the Future – Embrace it! 

Without doubt, as more states and countries move to legalize same-sex marriage we will continue to hear the above ten arguments rehashed over and over again in legislatures, in the media, in personal conversations, in churches, and on the Internet.  As marriage equality gradually becomes a reality in an increasing number of jurisdictions, however, more and more people are starting to recognize and accept the flawed nature of all arguments which oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage. In reality, there is no logical or reasonable basis for denying same-sex couples access to secular marriage laws.

More than 50% of Americans now support the legalization of same-sex marriage and more than 70% of those under thirty supports it. Opposing the inevitable (marriage equality) is not only a waste of time, money and energy, it’s also deeply selfish and cruel to continue to deny loving same-sex couples equal access to all parts of the American dream.  I urge all of those who oppose marriage equality to start focusing on their own lives, to accept that they don’t need to marry a person of the same sex, and to recognize the right of all Americans to be treated equally under the law: “liberty and justice for all” should not come with a disclaimer.

(Credit: Thank you to those at Gay Marriage USA who have regularly shared their views on this topic and who have, in that regard, helped contribute to the ideas and arguments presented in this article)

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Female Military Couple Wins Wedding Contest in New York City

The winner of the NuVo Condoms Wedding Contest was announced today and the winner is military couple, Amanda Ortiz and Rachel Murphy. The couple will receive an all-expenses paid wedding in New York City on June 30 during the NYC Gay Pride Festival. Free wedding services will be provided by a range of companies including:

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Staged Selection Process

In late April, NuVo Condoms announced it would be holding a same-sex wedding contest. Hearing the call for contestants, facebook page Gay Marriage USA (GMUSA) responded and featured the contest information. NuVo was subsequently inundated with submissions from couples all around the nation wanting to try their luck at winning the unique contest (see GMUSA feature).

Due to the intense response, additional rounds were added to the contest. Contestants were first required to post their image/story on the NuVo Condoms facebook page. The Top 10 couples with the most ‘likes’ on their photos proceeded to the next round which was hosted by Gay Marriage USA facebook page. GMUSA featured the Top 10 couples and an additional round of voting commenced.

The Top 5 couples (4 female  couples and 1 male couple) with the most ‘likes’ on their images across rounds one and two went through to the final round of the contest which included an interview with representatives of NuVo Condoms. Amanda and Rachel were chosen as the winning couple following the interview rounds!

The Winning Couple: Amanda and Rachel

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A military couple in their 20s, Amanda and Rachel’s original submission in the contest read as follows:

“My incredibly gorgeous fiancé Rachel Murphy and I are going to win this contest. Our lives came together in 2008 while in high school in Florida. She came from Missouri and I came from New Jersey. Both of us encountered many issues before meeting each other. Since then the past seems to be a blur of my mother’s suicide, her loss of a home, my step father’s death, and her mother falling into the deep pits of alcohol. We enlisted in the United States Army together in 2010. Since 2009 we have been on our own and making it through the lowest of low to being able to provide a place for us to live. Neither of our families can actually help us out with a wedding and this opportunity is indescribable in so many ways (since all of our money is going for Med School). This would honestly be a dream come true and we can finally become Amanda and Rachel Ortiz-Murphy.

Watch the video below to see the moment Amanda and Rachel heard the winning news!

Victory Coupons

In honor of the announcement, NuVo Condoms today announced they’d help make everyone a winner by issuing discount coupons (available at link) for condoms purchased at Walgreens and Duane Reade!

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Thousands Rally in NYC in a Defiant and Spirited Response to Anti-Gay Murder

An estimated crowd of more than two thousand this evening marched and rallied in New York City in response to a spate of anti-gay crimes in Manhattan in recent weeks. The wave of anti-gay violence came to a head on Saturday May 18th with the murder of Marc Carson who was shot dead in Greenwhich Vilage. The suspect in that fatal incident has been charged with a hate crime.

Members of the LGBT community and their allies assembled outside the LGBT Center of NYC on West 13th Street. By the time the march began the crowd had swelled to well beyond initial expectations. Led by representatives of the LGBT Center, the Anti-Violence Project, relatives of Marc Carson, religious leaders, Edie Windsor (DOMA plaintiff), and elected officials, the group marched towards the scene of Carson’s death at West 8th Street and 6th Avenue. Participants waved signs and chanted along the march route. A large number of police were in attendance.

Inspiring and upliftying speeches were given by representatives form a range of LGBT organizations and other community groups. The aunt of Marc Carson spoke on behalf of Marc’s family and accepted the condolences offered by those in attendance. Leaders from LGBT affirming churches provided input from a religious perspective. Nick Porto and Kevin Atkins, attacked in an unsolved anti-gay assault on May 5th, also spoke.

Much to the irritation of a number of rally attendees, no elected official spoke in relation to the recent rise in anti-gay violence in the city. The event ended with a minute’s silence to honor the death of Marc Carson.

The Pathway Forward

Across the speeches, a number of key themes emerged:

(1) We must remember that LGBT rights are about so much more than the legalization of same-sex marriage. While marriage equality is a key issue, focus must also remain on other LGBT-related struggles experienced in daily life such as street-based homophobic abuse.

(2) The gains made by LGBT people in recent years, and especially in recent months with regards to marriage equality, have potentially sparked the hate of those threatened by this legitimate challenge to existing societal power dynamics. Those against equality know they are losing the battle and they don’t like it.

(3) We must continue to champion and embrace the right of LGBT people to live freely in society. LGBT people, lke all others, should have the right to dress as they wish, be who they want to be, and love who they won’t to love, without being subjected to abuse and violence.

(4) As heinous as the recent violence has been, it’s an opportunity for the LGBT community to once again come together and unite against those who seek to oppress us. We have never given in  to discrimination and we never will.

(5) The LGBT community has an opportunity to become a leader in society on matters of gender expression and sexual diversity. Rigid norms around masculinity and feminitity have long been the basis for sanctioning and scorning those who don’t conform. In a contemporary society, we must ackolwedge and embrace the diversity that exists across all sectors.

Photos

See below for a selection of photos from today’s march and rally. More photos are available at Gay Marriage USA’s facebook page. All photos taken by GMUSA and can be used with credit.

Album 1 (140 Photos) – all images taggable on facebook

Album 2 (90 Photos) – all images taggable on facebook

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