The only major feminist organization in the National Freedom to Marry Coalition, NOW, is lauding the Hawaii court decision today and announcing plans to rally public support as the case moves through the appeals process.
"Lesbian rights are women's rights is what we've argued for more than 20 years," said NOW President Patricia Ireland. "Today's historic decision finally throws some legal weight behind that idea."
A Hawaii trial court ruled that denying same-sex couples the right to marry is unconstitutional sex discrimination under Hawaii's Equal Rights Amendment.
"It's a somewhat ironic, sweet victory for us, given the scare tactics the religious, political extremists attempted to use against the ERA during our long, intense battles," Ireland said. "Any new federal constitutional equality strategy must champion the rights of all women, and specifically include lesbian rights."
Anticipating a lengthy appeals process, NOW is planning a National Valentine's Day of Action in support of same-sex marriage the weekend of Feb. 14. Organizers expect local chapters will stage protests or mock wedding ceremonies, and deliver valentines with messages to legislators. NOW recently sent a 12-page mailing on the Day of Action to all 600 of its local chapters
"What better day than Valentine's Day, the day we celebrate romantic love and long-term commitments, for activists of all sexual orientations to speak up for the rights of lesbian and gay couples in Hawaii and every state?" said Ireland.
Lesbian rights are one of NOW's five priority issues, and the organization has a firm commitment to securing same-sex marriage rights. In addition to working on legal, legislative and grassroots strategies to secure equal marriage rights through the National Freedom to Marry Coalition, NOW's national board declared support for same-sex marriage in 1995 and NOW activists have battled attacks on same-sex marriage in at least 39 states.
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