Last Monday (October 21), New Jersey became the fourteenth state to grant lesbian and gay couples the right to marry. This declaration came through the New Jersey Supreme Court on Friday, October 18 when the Court stated that same-sex couples could marry while the state’s appeal to uphold the ban proceeded through the court. On Monday, October 21, Governor Chris Christie withdrew the state’s appeal asking the court to uphold the state ban on same-sex marriage; his administration released a statement that said, “The Governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his Administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court.”
While all of this was going on, the New Jersey General Assembly was once again attempting to pass a veto-proof marriage equality bill because in February 2012 Governor Christie had vetoed the original marriage equality bill and we expected that he would the bill again. So many people around the country were calling constituents of persuadable legislators to vote for the bill. With both decisions by the Supreme Court and Governor Christie, the phone calling into New Jersey ended.
Meanwhile, a similar bill for marriage equality is pending in Illinois. And like in New Jersey, the vote for the right to marry is close. The bill passed the Illinois Senate on February 14, 2013 with 34 yeas and 21 nays; it is now up for a vote in the Illinois House of Representatives. And like in New Jersey, supporters of marriage equality are calling into the state to educate constituents about the bill and ask them to call their Representative to vote yes on Senate Bill 10.
The organization coordinating the calls is the National Equity Action Team (NEAT), “a coalition of national, state, and local organizations and individuals who mobilize to win the freedom to marry in states with active marriage equality campaigns.” The coalition organizations include:
- Marriage Equality USA (the organization that is chairing this coalition)
- 1199 SEIU LGBTQ CAUCUS
- ACLU of Southern California
- Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation
- American Humanist Association
- Broadway Impact
- Brooklyn Community Pride Center
- Campaign for Southern Equality
- Center for Inquiry – New York City
- Democracy for New York City
- Dignity New York
- Empire State Pride Agenda
- Equality Beyond Gender
- Equality California
- Equality Maryland
- Equality News Network
- Faith In America
- Freedom to Marry
- Geeks OUT
- Get Equal
- Human Rights Campaign (National)
- Human Rights Campaign – Greater New York
- Human Rights Campaign – Triangle (NC)
- Indiana Equality
- Individual Organizer – Jana Clark (RI)
- Individual Organizer – Sherry Henderson (NC)
- Lambda Independent Democrats – Brooklyn
- Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens (LGDCQ)
- LGBT Community Center of New York City
- Log Cabin Republicans
- Metropolitan Community Churches Public Policy Team
- National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)
- National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
- National Organization for Women
- People For the American Way
- PFLAG – New York City
- PFLAG – Triangle North Carolina
- The Center Long Beach
- The LOFT LGBT Community Services Center
- The Marry Me Movement
- United Church of Christ
NEAT is organizing phone banks two to three times a week for equal access to marriage. Some of the phone banks are land-based groups of people making calls together at one site (usually NYC, Raleigh, NC, and several sites throughout IL); others are phone calling from the privacy of their homes and are being made throughout the US.
I have made these calls three times so far. Two were calls into New Jersey and one, so far, was into Illinois. The first evening I did the calls with several NOW members of my local NOW chapter – Ni-Ta-Nee NOW. The rest of the calls were made from the privacy of my home.
You too can call for Marriage Equality. Just go to http://theneat.org and then click on the Volunteer button at the top of the page. The volunteer pages list several opportunities – some group calls and some home-based phone banking through November 10 as of right now. Check your calendar, click on the dates and times you are available, fill out the information form, and you are on your way! NEAT will then email you with the details and will provide and computer- and phone-based training.
Join me. And call for Marriage Equality. Thanks.