June 22, 2011

Rich Ferraro
Director of Communications, GLAAD
(646) 871-8011

Aaron McQuade
Deputy Director of News and Field Media
(646) 871-8026

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) today urged both local and national media to highlight the stories of gay and lesbian couples and their families as a part of their news coverage surrounding the upcoming New York state Senate marriage equality vote.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has been an enthusiastic leader in championing marriage equality in the state. “This state has a proud tradition and a proud legacy as the progressive capital of the nation,” he said on Friday. “We led the way, and it’s time for New York to lead the way again.” Other state legislators who have spoken out in support of marriage equality in New York include U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Charles Schumer (D-NY).

Marriage protections for gay and lesbian couples have already been extended in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa, and the District of Columbia. The most recent public opinion data indicate that a majority of New Yorkers support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, including a Siena Research Institute poll conducted in April 2011 that shows 58% of people in favor of marriage.

“Marriage is a symbol of a couple’s lifelong dedication to each other,” said Herndon Graddick, Senior Director of Media Programs at GLAAD. “It provides important protections that ensure that loving and committed gay and lesbian couples can take care of each other and their families. Media outlets have a responsibility to include the personal stories of these New Yorkers in their coverage.”

Regardless of the eventual outcome of this week’s Senate vote, there are tens of thousands of couples in New York who will be affected, such as Richard Dorr, 83, and John Mace, 91, who have been together 61 years; Kristen Henderson and Sarah Kate Ellis, who published a memoir earlier this year about their relationship and the birth of their twins; and many others, with their own unique stories of love and hope for the future

As media report on this story over the next several days,  GLAAD is urging them to keep the following information in mind:

  • The most important voices to include are the voices of the couples and families who will be directly impacted by this decision – those who can now legally marry in the state they call home. We encourage media to reach out to us. GLAAD has couples, authorities and experts from a wide variety of backgrounds who are prepared to speak on this issue.
  • Marriage equality has been the law:
  • in Massachusetts since November 18, 2003
  • in Connecticut since October 10, 2008
  • in Iowa since April 27, 2009
  • in Vermont since September 1, 2009
  • in New Hampshire since January 1, 2010
  • in Washington D.C. since March 3, 2010
  • The coalition of marriage equality supporters is wide and varied, and includes representatives of many communities that are traditionally portrayed as being opposed to marriage equality. This includes prominent faith leaders, leaders from New York’s African American and Hispanic communities, and figures from the world of sports, business, and even conservative politics. 
  • It is equally important to engage the voices of people who have studied the institution of marriage on this story. Scholars, educators, psychologists and other people who are experts in fields related to marriage will be able to provide much-needed depth and analysis to your coverage of the issue.

We have an extensive list of families, couples and individuals with a wide variety of cultural perspectives who are ready to speak about the importance of marriage equality to them and their community. Please email for a list of available spokespeople.
(For additional resources, please feel free to contact us or any of these organizations)
Marriage Equality USA
Stuart Gaffney
Media Director
(510) 496-2700

Marriage Equality New York
Ron Zacchi
Executive Director

Cathy Marino-Thomas
Communications Director

Freedom to Marry
Evan Wolfson
Founder and President
(212) 851-8418

Jackie Yodashkin
Communications Director
(212) 851-8418

Finally, GLAAD encourages journalists to avoid the following:

  • Whenever there is a story that involves the LGBT community, there is a tendency among the media to seek to “balance” the story with the voices of anti-gay activists. If the media is going to give a platform to the claims of anti-gay activists, outlets have a journalistic responsibility to challenge those claims with facts.   

Supporters of marriage equality come from diverse communities. The idea that any community is united in its opposition to marriage equality is both outdated and false. We ask that any coverage that includes anti-marriage voices from various communities also include coverage of pro-marriage voices from the same communities. For example, while some faith leaders might oppose marriage equality, there are an equal (if not greater) number of faith leaders who do support marriage equality. Support for marriage equality is higher than ever and is continuing to grow, both in NY and across the country.