PHOENIX AND TUCSON, ARIZ. – Today, in an effort to remove discrimination from Arizona’s Constitution and win the freedom to marry for all couples in the state, Equality Arizona, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, the Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry launched a campaign called Why Marriage Matters Arizona.
Why Marriage Matters Arizona is a grassroots public education campaign to build support for the freedom to marry in Arizona. The campaign will open a dialogue with Arizonans about why marriage is important to same-sex couples and their families and is consistent with the values of liberty and freedom.
“Everyone should have the freedom to marry the person they love in the state that they call home, and that includes same-sex couples in Arizona,” said Rebecca Wininger, president of Equality Arizona. “The national landscape for marriage is shifting rapidly. It’s time to get the conversation started here in Arizona.”
“No member of anyone’s family – gay or straight – should be prevented from marrying the person they love,” said Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona. “Unfortunately, in Arizona, committed gay couples are prevented from caring for each other and are shut out from the protections and responsibilities that come with marriage. It’s time to extend the freedom to marry to all couples because no one in Arizona should have to leave the recognition of their relationship up to luck.”
Why Marriage Matters Arizona will equip supporters with the tools they need to share their personal stories about why marriage matters to them. Organizers anticipate that as more Arizonans interact with openly gay and lesbian couples and their families – and hear their stories – support for the freedom to marry will rise even more rapidly.
“We are a loving family,” said Nelda Majors and Karen Bailey, two Arizona women who have been in a loving, committed relationship for 55 years. “We believe that everyone deserves the right to live their lives in a committed, legal relationship with the person that they love. We don’t want anything special.”
In the coming weeks, Why Marriage Matters Arizona will hire staff and begin a multi-layered education campaign to engage community groups, businesses and congregations. Those organizations, civic leaders and individuals will be asked to pledge their commitment to winning the freedom to marry and share their reasons for making that commitment with their constituents, customers, families, friends and colleagues.
Business and faith leaders from across the state have already pledged their commitment to winning marriage for all, as have influential groups including Valle del Sol, the League of Women Voters, the NAACP of Maricopa County and the Anti-Defamation League.
“Over history, Latinos have been at the forefront of fighting against discrimination,” said Daniel R. Ortega Jr., a Phoenix lawyer and the immediate past chair of the board of directors of the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S. “Supporting marriage for gay couples is an important step forward for America. No person should face discrimination when they hope to marry the person they love.”
“Freedom means freedom for everyone,” said Grant Woods, Arizona’s attorney general throughout the 1990s and a Republican. “Couples who love and are committed to each other should be supported by Arizona, not marginalized.”
“A bond between two people, regardless of their gender, should be embraced by our state,” said Rev. Oscar S. Tillman, president of the Maricopa County Branch of the NAACP and the former interim pastor of the New Home Baptist Church in Phoenix. “We should not judge a gay or lesbian couple who want to be joined in marriage. This fight is about proving that our country is the land it says it is, the land of the free.”
For more information about the Why Marriage Matters Arizona campaign, including how to make a financial contribution, pledge to win the freedom to marry in Arizona and share a story about why marriage matters, visit http://www.whymarriagemattersaz.org.