Valentine’s Day marked with rallies, protests to call attention to marriage equality


Advocates for same-sex marriage marked this year’s Valentine’s Day with rallies and protests across the nation, many responding to a call from GetEQUAL and Marriage Equality USA to raise awareness about federal marriage equality.

“As we cheer on our heterosexual fellow citizens who are able to marry on this wonderful day of love, we will remind the world that falling in love and the desire to marry the person you love is a universal sentiment and that all citizens should have the freedom to marry the one they love.” said Molly McKay, Marriage Equality U.S.A. media director, in a press statement.

In at least 25 cities nationwide, same-sex marriage couples requested marriage licenses Monday to highlight the fact that they are denied full marriage equality in 45 U.S. states, and also denied federal recognition in the five states and District of Columbia where same-sex marriage is legal.

Among the demonstrations on Monday:

In San Francisco, nine same-sex couples went to City Hall to request a marriage license, and in an act of civil disobedience, sat on the floor. They left only after they were cuffed in plastic ties by sheriff’s deputies and escorted out of the building.

Similar demonstrations were held throughout California, including in Fresno and Sacramento. But in Yolo County, a county clerk joined the Valentine’s Day protest in support of same-sex marriage, and issued couples I.O.U’s instead of marriage certificates.

In Chicago, six activists were arrested at the marriage-bureau office in Daley Plaza after they insisted on a marriage license for a same-sex couple. Although Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed the civil-unions bill into law recently, the activists wanted to communicate that the move is not enough.

In Laramie, Wyo., about 50 people gathered to protest House Bill 74 that seeks to prohibit recognition of out-of-state gay marriages, and a Senate bill proposing a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

In Norfolk, Va., Garland Tillery and Jim Earl were among more than a dozen people who converged on the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office to demonstrate for the right of same-sex couples to marry. Tillery and Earl were “politely declined” when they requested a marriage license.

Also on Monday, New York City-based advocacy group Freedom to Marry launched the first-ever national public education campaign aimed at increasing nationwide support for marriage equality.

The groundbreaking campaign — “Why Marriage Matters” — includes ads nationwide featuring gay, lesbian and straight couples talking about why marriage matters to them.

And in a editorial Sunday, The New York Times called the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act “officially sanctioned discrimination” and questioned why President Barack Obama has called on Congress to repeal it, yet his administration continues to defend the act in court.

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