Local Activists Hopping the Atlantic to Fight for Marriage Equality in Ireland

Powell, Lassiter and TK are heading to Ireland to volunteer for the country's groundbreaking marriage referendum.

Trevor Powell, Jay Lassiter and John Keating are heading to Ireland to volunteer for the country’s groundbreaking marriage referendum.

On Tuesday, three local LGBT activists are flying across the proverbial pond to volunteer for Ireland’s marriage referendumTrevor Powell, attorney John Keating, and civil rights activist and political blogger Jay Lassiter met while working for Garden State Equality during the New Jersey marriage equality campaign in 2009. They’ve worked on a number of campaigns together since, but now they’re ready to take their teamwork overseas.

The referendum makes Ireland the only nation in the world that’s asking its citizens to vote for marriage equality. If the vote passes this Friday, May 22nd, couples will have the right to marry in a country that currently only recognizes civil unions. I shot Powell, a recent graduate of Temple University, a few questions to see what they have planned for their trip.

Are you going with an organization?
We aren’t affiliated with any organization. This is literally a group of political friends with several years’ experience behind working on LGBT campaigns who decided that this opportunity was too important to turn down.

Why did you decide to do this?
Jay, John, and I decided that, after working several LGBT-related campaigns in the U.S., we should contribute our parts to the marriage equality campaign in Ireland. The three of us worked to turn out the vote in Maine and Maryland in 2012. Those were among the first states in the U.S. to pass marriage equality via the ballot box. We are hoping to take that same success over to Ireland.

Why Ireland?
Ireland is the first nation in the world to put marriage equality to a country-wide vote, and, if the referendum passes, it will be a watershed movement for the LGBT movement worldwide. Despite the promising poll numbers which indicate 70 percent of Irish voters favor marriage equality, there is still no room for complacency. The actual vote will be much tighter than indicated and turnout, which is key to the success of the campaign, will likely be low. We cannot take the outcome of the referendum for granted, nor can we leave it to other people to expect it to pass.

What will the job actually entail? 
The job will entail canvassing neighborhoods, phone-banking, and turning out the vote from students on campuses like the University of Dublin and Trinity College.

What kind of insight can a group of activists from Philly bring to this cause?
The rights of same-sex couples to marry is the civil rights issue of our generation. For the overwhelming majority of millennials, granting same-sex couples the right to marry is a no-brainer. The younger generations need to take their support to the ballot box and be reminded just how pivotal this vote is—not only for Ireland, but for the rest of the world, too. The goal of this campaign is to get equality-minded voters, who are clearly the majority, out to the polls.

Supreme Court Justices Seem Divided Following Gay Marriage Arguments

Supreme Court Building

Shutterstock.com

This morning, Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments in a handful of cases challenging the Constitution’s right to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples. As The New York Times reports, the outcome isn’t necessarily as hopeful-sounding as some of us may have expected. Audio recordings of today’s arguments are slowly popping up on the Supreme Court website (hear part one here), but NYT offers a helpful rundown of how each justice was feeling at the end of the session:

Read more »

Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments in Marriage Equality Case

What could arguably be the biggest history-making event of 2015 begins tomorrow, when the Supreme Court hears oral arguments over the issue of marriage equality in the United States. The American Foundation for Equal Rights’ Matt Baume put together this snappy video to let you know what to expect, which is basically not a whole lot just yet.

He explains that there will be arguments presented by both sides of the case: The states (Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee) who argue that they have the right to deny same-sex marriage, and several married couples from those states who say their right to marry is protected by the Constitution.” The two questions the Supreme Court will need to answer are (1) whether the Fourteenth Amendment gives states the right to ban gay people from marrying and (2) whether the fourteenth amendment grants states the right to refuse same-sex marriages performed in other states.

When the arguments are finished, the Supreme Court will post audio recordings on their website so we can all hear what was said; and the the Supreme Court will take some time to weigh the comments. It’s projected we’ll have a ruling sometime in late-June, which, coincidentally is Pride month. “It’s impossible to say exactly how the Court will rule, but you might want to prepare your wedding invitations now—just in case,” says Baume, with a twinkle in his eye.

Stay tuned to the Internet for any updates!

Gay Couple Get Engaged on Let’s Make a Deal

I can’t stop watching this proposal on Let’s Make a Deal; it’s just so perfect and adorable in every way

In the episode, a lederhosen-clad gentleman asks host Wayne Brady if he could “give a shoutout,” and then commences to ask his partner if he’ll marry him. The man being proposed to literally screams at the top of his lungs (it gets me every time) and then Brady sings them a song as slow dance to commercial break. It’s too cute.

Watch it above.

PHOTOS: Gay Couple Married on Mural Arts Love Train for the First Time Ever

On Sunday, February 8th, Mural Arts annual Love Train took off on its fifth and final voyage. To celebrate the milestone—and nearly a year having same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania—organizers chose an affianced LGBT couple to be married on the train by openly gay judge Dan Anders. As I told you last week, the couple chosen was Neal Santos and Andrew Olson. The pair had been together six years, and own an adorable farm in West Philly called Farm 51.



neal santos andrew olson wedding

Neal and Andrew at the after-party at Barbuzzo.

I got the chance to chat with Neal after the festivities were over, and he told me he wouldn’t have had the experience any other way. “It was wonderful. Being on the train with everyone watching us and knowing we could take comfort in each other and have the support from friends, family and passersby. Just wonderful.” The event was attended by several family members of Santos and Olson, including their parents and siblings, and a handful of friends, like Philadelphia magazine news editor Brian Howard and his wife Carolyn Huckabay, communications manager at The Food Trust.

The grooms followed up the evening with a lovely cocktail reception with close friends and family at Barbuzzo‘s stunning new event space above the restaurant in Midtown Village. There, he told me that if they hadn’t gotten chosen for the Love Train, they probably wouldn’t have gotten married for another two or three years. So he’s eternally grateful for the experience.

Our own HughE Dillon was there to get some shots on the train ride. Check them out in the slideshow above.

Chris Christie’s Anti-Gay Record Gets Spotlighted—and Applauded—at Iowa Freedom Summit

AP-CHRIS-CHRISTIE-PHOTO-MATT-ROURKE-940X540

New Jersey governor Chris Christie was much ballyhooed over the weekend at the Iowa Freedom Summit, with much of his applause generated over his movement to stop same-sex marriage in our neighboring state. More from Time:

At the gathering of Republican leaders, which is regarded as the unofficial start of the presidential primary, Rep. Steve King introduced Christie with a list of the New Jersey governor’s conservative credentials. Among them was his past obstruction of same-sex marriage in the Garden State.

“He vetoed the gay marriage bill in New Jersey,” King said, inremarks reported by Time. “He is pro-life.”

Read more »

Snooki to Officiate Gay Wedding

We’ve done our fair share of hating on Snooki, but it’s hard to poke fun at the gal when you hear stories like this: The Jersey Shore alum took to Twitter this week to announce that she’s an ordained minister—and one of the first weddings she’s going to officiate is that of her gay besties, hairstylists Bradley Moreland and Luis Miller:

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 1.18.48 PM

Moreland, who works at Vidov Salon in New York posted a photo of him and his fiancé with Snooks earlier this month:

HuffPo’s gay voices reminds us that Snooki has long been an advocate of LGBT rights, once even going so far as saying: “”I’m praying I have a gay little boy one day,” when she spoke at a Trevor Project event in 2013.

There’s a New All-Gay Wedding Magazine Called EQL, and It’s Awesome

From eqlwedding.com.

From eqlwedding.com.

Sure, there are so many wedding magazines on the market (including Philly Mag‘s own fabulous Philadelphia Wedding), but imagine wandering through the periodical isles at Barnes and Noble and finding a publication dedicated totally to gay ceremonies.

It would only make sense that such a magazine would come to market, given the drastic momentum behind legalizing gay marriage throughout the country, and EQL is it. The new publication, which comes out twice a year, is a glossy, gorgeous assortment of actual couples’ wedding celebrations, offering great ideas for just about any swanky or simple party. Read more »

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