Freedom To Marry

The gay and non-gay partnership working to win marriage equality nationwide

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Why Marriage Matters to Women

"Feminists can have a significant impact on the struggle for marriage equality because we have decades of victories and struggles that inform our commitment to justice. As feminists we understand the importance of choice because we have struggled for decades for our reproductive justice. We understand constitutional equality because we have fought for women to have equal protection under the constitution for decades—and we still do not have a signed, sealed and delivered Equal Rights Amendment. We also understand fairness and justice because as women we have faced centuries of inequality, oppression and injustice throughout the globe. Marriage equality is our fight because it encompasses all of the issues we are passionately committed to as feminists."

— Special to Freedom to Marry by Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz, Senior Field Organizer, National Organization for Women

Use the key resources below to learn more about why marriage matters to women and the huge difference women can make in the fight for equality.

 


 

FROM EVAN WOLFSON:

"Women as Legally Subordinate to Their Husbands"
From Chapter 3 of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People's Right to Marry
Despite the broader agenda of the opponents of marriage equality for gays, most Americans today would not urge that our country return to the tradition of marriage that Wolfson describes—no matter how "efficient" it made the family unit or conformed to some religious views of "God's plan" and the "definition of marriage."

"Marriage Makes a Word of Difference"
Originally published in Portland Mercury
June 14, 2007

For much of our nation's history, women were denied the right to be lawyers. The Supreme Court itself upheld that exclusion, opining that each sex has its proper sphere and necessary roles, and the "paramount destiny [of women is to] fulfill the noble and benign offices of wife and mother. This is the law of the Creator." Majorities sincerely believed that it was okay to withhold full participation in life choices, including the freedom to marry, based on a person's race or sex. By tradition and "definition," lawyers were men, and that, most believed, is how it had to be.

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WHERE YOU CAN GO TO GET INVOLVED OR LEARN MORE:

National Organization for Women: Equal Marriage NOW
The National Organization for Women (NOW) is the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States. NOW is a partner organization of Freedom to Marry and includes links, talking points, and fact sheets on marriage equality on their website.

National Center for Lesbian Rights: Marriage
The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. NCLR is lead counsel on behalf of same-sex couples in the California marriage case, which is currently before the California Supreme Court.

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THE NUMBERS: POLLING & STATISTICS:

Prevalence of Parenting:Percentage of Lesbian Couples Raising Children
courtesy of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

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PUBLICATIONS:

NOW POLICY STATEMENT: Equal marriage is a feminist issue
National Organization for Women
May 17, 2004

NOW's mission is to promote equality for women — all women. In 1995 NOW affirmed that the choice of marriage is a fundamental constitutional right.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (IX)
March 28, 2007
This letter to the CA Assembly Judiciary Committee endorses California's Marriage Non-discrimination Act (AB 43, Leno)

International Women's Day message from Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz, Senior Field Organizer
National Organization for Women
March 8, 2006

Feminists can have a significant impact on the struggle for marriage equality because we have decades of victories and struggles that inform our commitment to justice.

To Work or Not To Work?: The Effects of Partner Earnings and Children on Women's Labor Supply
Sylvia Allegretto, Center of Economic Analysis
November 2002

This study uses the 1990 Census to examine and compare the labor force participation decisions of three groups of women: married, cohabiting opposite-sex and cohabiting same-sex. Of particular interest are the effects of children and partner earnings on labor supply for all three groups.

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NEWS:

Finance guru Suze Orman talks about faith, power — and money
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
March 19, 2007

[Marriage] matters a big deal financially. It's not right that somebody like me, who has millions of dollars, that upon my death, my significant other is going to have to lose 50 percent of that to estate taxes. Why should I be punished? I have worked so hard to earn every penny that I've earned. Why should that happen?

OPINION: We can have both: ERA and marriage equality
Women's eNews
February 21, 2007

Instead of seeking to extricate the ERA from contemporary legal arguments about marriage equality, let's honor the history of lesbian's work for women's rights. Let's support lesbians in the quest for marriage equality and embrace them fully and openly in the movement to pass the ERA.

Women in south rejecting GOP over war, marriage stands 365Gay.com
September 7, 2006
A recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that three out of five Southern women surveyed said they planned to vote for a Democrat in the midterm elections. The GOP's focus on issues that appeal to social conservatives, such as denying gay and lesbian couples the rights and responsibilities of marriage and overturning abortion laws, have turned many long-time Republicans off.

Laurel Hester's lasting legacy
North Jersey Media Group
March 1, 2006

"Maybe someday it will be the formal institution of marriage that people like Hester and Andree enter into. For now, it's domestic partnership, which is good as far as it goes, but which goes nowhere near formal marriage in terms of the benefits and rights of the partners."

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MULTIMEDIA:

VIDEO: Story Center couple discuss ACLU challenge of marriage ban in MD
Baltimore Sun
July 24, 2007

In this powerful video montage, Gita Deane and Lisa Polyak show why marriage matters to them: to protect their relationship and their children from harms, and to ensure that no loving couple will have to be torn apart because of political borders.

From One Wedding and a Revolution
Women's educational media


"1st Wedding Ceremony"
[DSL] [56k]


"Kate Called Del and Phyllis"
[DSL] [56k]


"Gavin The Right Time"
[DSL] [56k]

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"Women as Legally Subordinate to Their Husbands"

From Chapter 3 of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People's Right to Marry
Despite the broader agenda of the opponents of marriage equality for gays, most Americans today would not urge that our country return to the tradition of marriage that Wolfson describes—no matter how "efficient" it made the family unit or conformed to some religious views of "God's plan" and the "definition of marriage."

National Organization for Women: Equal Marriage NOW

The National Organization for Women (NOW) is the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States. NOW is a partner organization of Freedom to Marry and includes links, talking points, and fact sheets on marriage equality on their website.

National Center for Lesbian Rights: Marriage


The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. NCLR is lead counsel on behalf of same-sex couples in the California marriage case, which is currently before the California Supreme Court.

To Work or Not To Work?: The Effects of Partner Earnings and Children on Women's Labor Supply

Sylvia Allegretto, Center of Economic Analysis
November 2002

This study uses the 1990 Census to examine and compare the labor force participation decisions of three groups of women: married, cohabiting opposite-sex and cohabiting same-sex. Of particular interest are the effects of children and partner earnings on labor supply for all three groups.

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