New Video Website,, Puts Human Face on Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

March 12, 2007 12:00 am

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NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union has teamed up with the Emmy-award winning production company Public Interest to launch a video campaign today via a new web site, The purpose of the site is to put a human face on the issue of marriage for same-sex couples and to reach a wider audience using new media tools. Campaign partners include the Equality Federation, Freedom to Marry, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, Lambda Legal, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

“We are taking advantage of web technology to get our messages out about the importance of marriage for same-sex couples,” said Dave Isser, Head of Production, Public Interest. “Using short videos posted on and on YouTube, we will be able to reach a wide audience and talk to them about the vital protections that marriage provides. People can comment on these videos and forward them to friends. It’s a great jumping-off point for a meaningful conversation about same-sex couples and marriage.”

The site, which features 10 short streaming videos of real couples telling their stories, aims to show Americans that denying marriage protections to gay and lesbian couples and their families is unfair and harmful. Viewers are invited into the homes of ten ordinary couples whose lives demonstrate why marriage is necessary for themselves and their families. In the process, they draw attention to the many protections reserved in America exclusively for people able to marry.

“At, Americans get to see that families headed by same-sex couples are pretty typical American families,” said Matt Coles Director of the ACLU’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project. “Our families make the same commitments and face the same struggles, but we don’t have the safety net that government provides through marriage, and this can cause terrible harm.”

Currently, 26 states have amendments in their constitutions permanently barring same-sex couples from marriage. Many of these amendments prohibit many other forms of legal protections for the families of same-sex couples as well.

“When people realize what it means when lesbian and gay couples are shut out of legal protection for their families, they understand that it’s unfair to continue to treat committed couples as legal strangers,” added Coles.

Among the couples featured in the 10 Couples videos are:

  • Heather McDonnell and Carol Snyder, of White Plains, New York, who have been partners for 16 years. Heather saw Carol through a terrifying breast cancer ordeal, but had to fight with hospital staff to be at Carol’s side as she suffered a drug reaction that almost killed her.
  • Richard Nolan and Bob Pingpank, of Palm Beach, Florida, have been together for 50 years. They met in college in 1955, became a couple soon after. Although they could not be public about their relationship in the 50s, they never wavered in their commitment to one another. Still, Bob laments the fact that their relationship is not protected as a marriage, saying “Legally we are nothing to each other, even after 50 years.”
  • Amorie Robinson and Hattie Alexander, of Detroit, Michigan. Amorie was ignored by hospital staff when Hattie went in for a surgical procedure. Hattie asked the staff to notify Amorie when the procedure was over, but they did nothing.
  • Stan Gabriszeski and Eric Chan, who have been together seven years, met in San Francisco, California. Although Stan served in the Navy as a nuclear submarine officer for five years, the couple was forced to immigrate to Canada in order to continue to be together because Eric is a native of Hong Kong and U.S. immigration laws don’t recognize same-sex couples.
  • Six more couples—from Pensacola, Florida; Lake Arrowhead and Long Beach, California; Bowie, Maryland; Mount Pleasant, South Carolina; and Detroit, Michigan.

In addition to the videos, the web site has tools that allow people to take meaningful action. These tools include suggestions for how to talk to a friend or loved one about marriage, a map highlighting the states where marriage fights are most critical, resources for getting involved in marriage advocacy in one’s own state, and links to resources provided by other organizations that are fighting for marriage protections.

The campaign was conceived and produced by Public Interest, non-profit ad agency and production company dedicated to delivering high quality work that addresses critical social issues. Public Interest’s work has earned two Emmy awards in the past four years including one for their groundbreaking MTV advertising campaign focusing on the tragic hate-murder of Matthew Sheppard outside Laramie, Wyoming.

The 10 videos are also available on at

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