My partner and I have been together for 13 years. We had a commitment ceremony 10 years ago and we have an eight-year-old daughter, yet we still cannot get legally married in our home state, and we are not protected legally under the state law and still in some Pennsylvanian and federal laws. Similarly, my co-founder has been with her partner for 17 years, and they still cannot get married. They want to be legally married because they are in a loving committed relationship, and because they recognize that, as they get older, their future health and well-being may very well depend on the social benefits that heterosexual married couples are entitled to under the law.
Though the Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last month, those rulings only affect marriage equality federally, and in states that currently allow same-sex marriage, leaving same-sex couples who live in states that do not in limbo.
I started Commonwealth Equality for Pennsylvania because I have a difficult time sitting around when social injustices are occurring and the timing of this campaign just seemed right, with Representative Brian Sims’ introduction of a House bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania and Attorney General Kane's announcement that she would not defend Pennsylvania’s version of DOMA.
Right now, we're crowdsourcing photos to defend marriage equality. You can show your support by downloading and printing the #CommonwealthEquality template from the Commonwealth Equality Facebook page and write your messages of support, which we can customize for any state. Then take a picture of you, your family, and friends with the messages and send it to us at commonwealthequality at gmail dot com. We will post it on our social media pages as a visual protest against marriage discrimination.
The goal of the #CommonwealthEquality campaign is to show the individuals, families, friends and allies in Pennsylvania who are pushing for marriage equality in the state and to show the faces of those affected by these discriminatory laws. This will help people feel more meaningfully connected to a cause, as they can actually see the people affected, read their messages and get a sense of how these discriminatory laws affect these individuals’ lives.
Additionally, it helps lawmakers see that public opinion is on our side.
Currently we are recruiting lawmakers to participate in our social media photo campaign. We launched a month ago and so far have been able to get photos from state representatives Boyle, Cohen, Davis, McCarter, O'Brien, Schlossberg and Sims. We have also gotten a photo message from Senator Leach and are working on getting even more from both the State Reps and Senators.
The second phase, once we have reached out to the lawmakers who have come out in support of Marriage Equality in Pennsylvania, is to ask our supporters and followers to reach out to their lawmakers who haven't come out in support of Marriage Equality and ask them why not. As an organization, we will be doing the same, sending these lawmakers our social media pages so they can see all of the photos and messages of their constituents who support of Marriage Equality in the state and who are affected by their decisions as lawmakers.
We would like everyone to participate—LGBT folks in Pennsylvania, families and allies of LGBT in Pennsylvania, lawmakers in Pennsylvania. We would also like people who live in other states who have marriage equality and would like to support our push for it in Pennsylvania. We would like local celebs and national celebrities to participate—really anyone and everyone who feels that marriage equality is worth fighting for! The more photo messages we are able to post, the bigger the impact we will have on the views and opinions of our legislators and our neighbors, starting a visual campaign in support of marriage equality.
Show your support for marriage equality in Pennsylvania. If your state doesn't support marriage equality yet, think of starting a similar visual campaign. Click here to say you'll DO it.
This project is part of GOOD's series Push for Good—our guide to crowdsourcing creative progress.