As the Supreme Court prepares to hear testimony in the Proposition 8 and the discriminatory 'Defense of Marriage Act' (DOMA) cases later this week, rallies are being held in all 50 states. GLAAD's New York staff worked with more than thirty other organizations to turn out hundreds of New Yorkers to march and rally for marriage equality in Greenwich Village.
The rally began at the historic Stonewall Inn, which is considered by many to be the place where the LGBT movement began. Participants marched from Stonewall to Washington Square Park, carrying signs that read everything from "This is our week," to "I love my lesbian moms," to "37 years together!" alongside a giant American flag being carried by at least twenty people and chanting, "What do we want? Marriage equality! When do we want it? Now!"
Upon arriving at Washington Square Park, people gathered to hear many distinguished speakers including US Representative Jerrold Nadler, openly gay NY State Assembly member Danny O'Donnell, openly gay NY State Senator Tom Duane, bi-national couple Josh Vandiver and Henry Velandia, founders of The DOMA Project, and many others.
"We're here today to voice our unwavering support for Edie Windsor and for the rights for all Americans to marry whoever they choose, whoever they love," stated Representative Nadler. "The progress in this is exorable and inevitable. It's our job not to relax noting its inevitability. It's our job to redouble our efforts so that it's not only inevitable but immediate, so that people today can enjoy the benefits of equality and liberty."
Even though the plaintiff in the case against DOMA had already departed for her Supreme Court hearings in Washington DC, Edie Windsor's presence was everywhere in the rally. Among a sea of posters was a photo of Edie and her late wife Thea Spyer, with the words "We the people" printed underneath.
In addition to hearing the possible outcomes of the cases, marchers also heard the personal stories of what's at stake in both cases. Josh and Henry are a bi-national couples, Josh is from the US and Henry is from Venezuela. Though they married in Connecticut in 2010, Henry cannot get a permanent residency in this country because under DOMA the federal government does not recognize their marriage. Other couples and families told their stories of having been together for decades without being recognized by the federal government.
Members of the Middle Collegiate Church gospel choir sang "Woke Up This Morning with My Mind Set on Freedom" and Broadway and TV star, Tituss Burgess, sang the "Star Spangled Banner," which he called "A national anthem for a national cause!"
GLAAD staff was an active part of the march and the rally. We interfaced with more than 15 media outlets who covered the event, providing background on the rally and the cases before the Supreme Court, as well as highlighting New York couples. We photographed and live-tweeted the march and the rally. And we filmed a number of participants, asking them to explain what marriage equality means to them.
The New York City rally is just one of more than 170 actions taking place in every state in the nation this week to show support for the repeal of DOMA and Prop 8. Visit www.glaad.org/marriage to learn more and join us in Washington, D.C. on March 26 and 27 to help show America that all Americans deserve to be treated fairly and equally under the law - no matter who they love.