LGBT Groups Ask Unions, Civil Rights Groups For Marriage Campaign Help

Originally formed to repeal DOMA in Congress, a coalition of LGBT rights organizations, unions and other civil rights groups is going to be fighting to “secur[e] the freedom to marry nationwide.”

Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images

NEW YORK CITY — Two leading LGBT rights groups are reaching out to unions and other civil rights organizations to push for marriage equality support in the coming months as the Supreme Court considers two cases addressing marriage for same-sex couples.

The Respect for Marriage Coalition, led by the Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry, was established to fight for repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act in Congress. Now, however, the two groups want to expand the mission’s group to fight for “overturning DOMA and securing the freedom to marry nationwide.”

The coalition (full list here) includes a broad range of LGBT rights groups, from the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association to the Campaign for Southern Equality. It also includes labor unions — from the American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees to the Service Employees International Union — and a broad range of civil rights organization — from the Anti-Defamation League to the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

“We will be working to elevate visibility for our cause in the media and to continue building momentum for marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples,” Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin and Freedom to Marry president Evan Wolfson wrote in a letter provided to BuzzFeed. “Given the moment, we believe it is critical to expand the work of the Respect for Marriage Coalition. We hope your organization will become as involved in this expanded effort as possible.”

The group was brought together to work on the legislative effort to repeal DOMA in Congress, the Respect for Marriage Act, which was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 112th Congress. The Senate never voted on the actual bill, however, and the focus now is on the Supreme Court, which will be hearing a challenge to DOMA on March 27 and to California’s Proposition 8 marriage amendment on the day before that.

Wolfson, the longtime marriage advocate who runs Freedom to Marry, and Griffin, the activist who started the Proposition 8 federal court fight who now runs the Human Rights Campaign, are looking to use the coalition to push a broad education effort in the coming months. Noting that this is “a modification of the original focus” of the coalition, Wolfson and Griffin ask coalition partners to alert the groups if members “have any concerns or are no longer able to participate.”

“It is our sincere hope that you will join us as we work to amplify the national conversation on marriage equality, seizing the opportunities this moment presents. We look forward to the work ahead to grow support and continue to build momentum until we achieve our goals of overturning DOMA and securing the freedom to marry nationwide,” they write.

A call to discuss the new effort is set for Monday.

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