Love Makes A Rally

by Melinda Tuhus | September 8, 2008 7:47 AM | | Comments (1)

long%20and%20roberts.jpgTheir candidate doesn’t support gay marriage, but that didn’t stop proponents from collecting 500 petition signatures at the region’s Barack Obama kick-off rally.

Staffers and volunteers with Love Makes a Family were out in force Saturday at the New Haven area’s rousing kick-off for the Barack Obama fall presidential campaign. The event, sponsored by the state Democratic Party, featured speeches by U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd and U.S. Congressional representatives from across the state.

The 1,500 or so attendees at Hamden Middle School ran a gauntlet of tables promoting various causes, including gay marriage.

IMG_1092.jpgEugenia Bryce (pictured), from Weston, stopped by the Love Makes a Family table to sign the petition for same-sex marriage, which promises to be a big issue at the state Capitol this coming session.

Supporters signed a letter containing two postcards — one for their state representative, one for their state senator, “which we will hand-deliver when the time is right,” staffer Matt Blinstrubas said. Love Makes a Family has been working toward gay marriage for years, not settling for the state’s civil unions law that was passed in 2005.

At that time, the civil unions law’s backers said it provided all the benefits and protections of legal marriage within the state, just without the name.

“That’s not true at all,” said Monica Kim Roberts of Newtown, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Connecticut. “I’m very much in support of marriage equality. I work with foster and adoptive parents a lot, and some of my best parents are same sex couples. I see what they go through because of the discrimination they face every day because of our system, and I think they deserve the same rights as every other couple and every other parent.”

As one example of inequality, she mentioned that a parent she works with has a partner who is a legal immigrant. The citizen partner cannot sponsor his civil union partner for citizenship, as a legally married spouse could do.

There are hundreds of federal laws (like immigration laws) regarding benefits of marriage that do not apply to civil unions, but state legislators can’t do much about that.

“It will take a change in the federal Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA],” which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, explained Anne Stanback, executive director of Love Makes a Family, reached by phone after the rally.

last year the state Judiciary Committee convened a hearing at which about 20 couples testified the various ways in which civil unions are not respected like marriage — partners who could not visit their loved ones in the hospital, or a woman who was not allowed by a funeral home to claim her partner’s body. Stanback said civil unions are not understood the way marriage is “universally understood as a recognized civil institution.” She said civil unions constitute second-class status for those relationships.

Where does Barack Obama stand on the issue? He supports civil unions, not gay marriage. His position was irrelevant to these organizers at his Saturday rally.

“This is a state issue, a non-partisan issue, so we just ask people if they support equal marriage rights for same-sex people in Connecticut,” said LMF organizer Gannon Long (pictured in photo at top of story on the left with Roberts on the right).

Cheryl Wilson from Hamden declined to sign the letter. Asked her views afterward, she said she didn’t know much about the issue, but “it doesn’t hit home for me so I’m not sure what my thoughts are about it. I don’t know if I’m the right person to sign up because I’m not invested enough in it.”

Asked what he’d suggest as a next step for someone like Wilson, Blinstrubas said, “I would encourage her to visit our website, where there’s a lot of interesting articles and resources about the status of marriage in Connecticut.”

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Posted by: Ben | September 8, 2008 8:50 AM

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