San Francisco City Hall resonated with dozens of “I Do’s” on this Valentines day, to a flurry of white wedding gowns, elated brides, proud grooms and children carrying bouquets. It was bittersweet, fraught with inequality, as same-sex couples were denied parity and turned away. But some refused to leave without marriage licenses and together with friends, sat down in the middle of the floor of that office in City Hall, in defiance of the San Francisco Sheriff’s order to disperse.
The Sheriffs arrested those who refused to disperse in an act of civil disobedience. Amongst those arrested and released without citation was Robin McGehee, Director of GetEQUAL.
Loving, committed same-sex couples, accompanied by their friends and supporters, asked for marriage licenses as part of Freedom to Marry Week. This is the 15th year in a row that couples have appeared at clerks’ offices across the country to request marriage licenses and to render visible the harm that excluding them from marriage causes them and their families. These annual actions, started by Marriage Equality USA in the mid-90’s, took place this year in San Francisco, CA, Houston, TX, Columbus, OH and many other locales.
The 2013 events are sponsored and co-sponsored by a coalition of diverse organizations, including but not limited to GetEQUAL, California Faith for Equality, the Foundation for Family and Marriage Equality in Texas, and the Coalition of Welcoming Congregations.
“Today we go to marriage license counters across the country to tell the stories of our LGBTIQ friends and family; to show that they live in every community and that we want to honor and protect their families just like everyone else,” concluded Pastor Rebecca Harrison, who will lead couples at San Francisco City Hall. “Love makes a marriage and the time for marriage equality is now.”
Rev. Rebecca F. Harrison is a Minister in the Presbyterian Church and a straight ally. Her father was a Presbyterian minister who supported civil rights in the South during the integration of the schools and beyond, so she comes by her inclusive views naturally. Rev. Harrison was also one of the protestors at the sit in who was arrested and released without citation.
This annual event has never been more important as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear the landmark marriage equality cases.
“The struggle for marriage equality is a critical element in the broader movement for full equality under the law. Denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry undermines their dignity as human beings and excludes them from over 1,000 rights and protections under federal law,” concluded Billy Bradford of Marriage Equality USA and GetEQUAL.