At ACLU Conference, Religious and Civic Leaders Highlight Equality for Same-Sex Couples Seeking Right to Marry

July 7, 2004 12:00 am

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ACLU Continues Marriage Rights Battle with Filing of Lawsuit in Maryland Today


SAN FRANCISCO – Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, who galvanized a national grassroots marriage movement by authorizing same-sex marriages, will address a plenary session on marriage equality today at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Annual Membership Conference, joined by the Rev. Cecil Williams, a leading progressive religious figure, and couples in ACLU lawsuits seeking the right to marry.

“”Marriage for same-sex couples is a human rights issue, and no two people can better say why than Mayor Gavin Newsom and the Rev. Cecil Williams,”” said Matt Coles, the Director of the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project and AIDS Project. “”For many Americans in same-sex couples, marriage is a simple necessity. They need the protection of marriage – in the work place; in the emergency room and at the schools their children attend. And no one can explain that better than the couples who will be speaking.””

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom sparked a national movement by granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples in February 2004. Eventually more than 3,000 couples were married in San Francisco, many of them traveling from other states to obtain licenses.

Joining Mayor Newsom and the ACLU’s Coles in the plenary is the Rev. Cecil Williams, Pastor of the Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, which serves more than 10,000 parishioners in San Francisco. Rev. Williams has been a leading inclusive voice for gays and lesbians, as well as the poor and marginalized members of contemporary society.

Also participating in today’s panel are Mary Li and Becky Kennedy (the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in Oregon); Sylvia Samuels and Diane Gallagher (among 13 couples represented by the ACLU in a challenge to New York State’s ban on same-sex marriage); and Corey Davis and Andre LeJeune (clients in an ACLU challenge to California’s same-sex marriage ban).

In a related legal action today in Baltimore, Maryland, the ACLU sued Maryland county clerks, charging that a state law denying same-sex couples the right to marry violates the Maryland Constitution. The action in Maryland today follows a string of lawsuits filed by the ACLU, its coalition partners and affiliates on behalf of same-sex couples seeking marriage equality in New York, Oregon, California and Washington State.

For more information on the ACLU membership conference, go to /2004memberconf/

For more information on the ACLU’s work on same-sex marriage and other equality issues, go to /getequal/

The marriage plenary, as well as all plenary sessions and keynote addresses, will be webcast live at

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