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video: NEW: Groups Call On Senator Reed To Support Respect for Marriage Act

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI) and Ocean State Action have partnered with two national organizations to urge Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed to sign on as a cosponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that, if passed, would overturn the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

MERI and Ocean State Action have joined forces with national marriage equality campaign Freedom to Marry and online grassroots organizing platform Courage Campaign in an effort to “[reach] out to Rhode Islanders to make sure that Senator Reed hears from his constituents who want him to join in support of the Respect for Marriage Act,” according to Marc Solomon, National Campaign Director of Freedom to Marry.

The proposed Respect for Marriage bill would allow the federal government to provide benefits to couples in same-sex marriages. Reed is the only member of the Rhode Island Congressional delegation who has yet to cosponsor the bill.

In an online campaign, the four groups will collect signatures from a variety of constituents across Rhode Island and then representatives of the groups will deliver the petition signatures to Senator Reed’s office late next week. Signatories signed onto a letter addressed to the Senator listing the “critical protections” that same-sex couples are denied under DOMA.

MERI has also released a video of Deb Tevyaw, widow of Rhode Island corrections officer and marriage activist Pat Baker. During the last months of her life, Baker fought to ensure that Tevyaw, whom she had legally married in Massachusetts, would have access to Social Security survivor benefits and other protections that come with federal recognition of a marriage currently denied under DOMA.

"Deb and Pat's story illustrates the legal and economic protections that same-sex couples and their families are denied here in Rhode Island,” said Kate Brock, Executive Director of Ocean State Action. “It's time the Federal Government rectify these injustices and end this government sponsored discrimination by repealing DOMA now."

“All Rhode Islanders deserve equal rights, protection and recognition under law,” said Ray Sullivan, Campaign Director at Marriage Equality Rhode Island. “We are hopeful that Sen. Reed will recognize that, and join the other members of our state's Congressional delegation in supporting this important civil rights bill.”


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