Press Room

February 04, 2004

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HRC Launches National Call to Action to Protect Marriage Rights in Massachusetts

Help Needed to Fight Attack by National Anti-Gay Organizations

WASHINGTON - With just over one week to go until the Massachusetts legislature is scheduled to vote on a constitutional amendment to take away marriage rights granted by the state's highest court, the Human Rights Campaign joined MassEquality in issuing a national call to action urging marriage rights supporters nationwide to help oppose this amendment. Massachusetts legislators are scheduled to vote Feb. 11, 2004, on a discriminatory amendment to the state constitution banning marriage for same-sex couples being pushed by national anti-gay organizations.

MassEquality launched a sophisticated website - MassEquality.org - where supporters can find out more about their grassroots campaign to urge legislators to vote "no" on any amendment that would deny marriage rights to same-sex couples. MassEquality is also asking people to contact friends and family in Massachusetts and urge them to call their state legislators. MassEquality.org provides easy-to-use tools to help people contact their elected officials.

Today, HRC sent a national call to action to its members in every state, urging them to call their friends and family in Massachusetts and to sign onto MassEquality.org to help protect the gains made by the historic ruling. HRC also announced that national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender websites - PlanetOut.com and Gay.com - have joined the fight by agreeing to post the MassEquality.org link on their sites.

"Massachusetts can't face this onslaught alone," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques, who championed equal rights as a member of the Massachusetts Senate. "We are calling on our supporters everywhere to sign onto MassEquality.org and do whatever they can to protect our rights. If the radical right succeeds in writing discrimination into the Massachusetts Constitution, there is no telling where they will stop."

In addition to today's national call to action, HRC has brought numerous resources to bear to preserve and protect the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. HRC has invested $200,000 in the effort as well as contributed staff time and expertise, co-sponsored advertising campaigns designed to motivate and activate our community and allies, and submitted or signed on to friend of the court briefs in matters before the Supreme Judicial Court.

"HRC's call to action has already generated increased traffic to the MassEquality.org website," said MassEquality Campaign Coordinator Marty Rouse. "Our legislators are being bombarded with messages from the other side, urging them to put discrimination in the state Constitution. We must engage the entire GLBT community and their friends and family in Massachusetts to stop the radical right from taking away this hard-won victory and we appreciate HRC's help in doing so."

National anti-gay organizations, including Colorado-based Focus on the Family and the Washington-based Traditional Values Coalition, are pouring money into Massachusetts to pass a Constitutional amendment that would forever deny the rights and protections of marriage to same-sex couples and their families. The groups have run newspaper advertisements attacking families, paid for professional phone banks to call voters, and underwritten the efforts of local anti-gay organizations to lobby legislators.

"We know that most people in Massachusetts don't want to see discrimination put in the Constitution," said Rouse. "They need to be asked to pick up the phone and tell their legislator to vote against any amendment that would deny rights and protections to gay and lesbian couples and their children. We are giving people the information and tools they need to send that message."

MassEquality is an unprecedented coalition of twenty local and national groups dedicated to defeating any anti-gay amendment. Members of the MassEquality coalition include: ACLU of Massachusetts, Anti-Defamation League, New England Region Bisexual Resource Center, Citizens for Participation in Political Action (CPPAX), Freedom to Marry Coalition of Massachusetts, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Gay And Lesbian Labor Activist Network/Pride at Work/AFL-CIO, Human Rights Campaign, Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, LGBT Aging Project, Massachusetts Gay & Lesbian Political Caucus, Massachusetts Lesbian & Gay Bar Association, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, National Organization for Women - Massachusetts Chapter, Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry and the Western Massachusetts LGBT Political Alliance.

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