The Best Thing This Week: Marriage Equality Helps Lower the Teen Suicide Rate

Photo by nito100/iStock

Photo by nito100/iStock

Nothing is as heartbreaking as a young person’s suicide, which has become the second-leading cause of death for teens in the United States (after accidents). And yet a new study published this week in JAMA Pediatrics offers hope. It traces recent downturns in teen suicide attempts in states that passed laws allowing gays to marry. In the 32 states that passed such legislation, teen suicide attempts overall fell by 7 percent — and by twice that rate, 14 percent, among gay kids. Rates were unchanged in states in which no such legislation was passed. Read more »

NATIONAL NEWS: VP Joe Biden Makes the First Wedding He Officiates a Gay One

Vice President Joe Biden

Vice President Joe Biden

The vice president officiated at a gay wedding outside his residence on Monday.

Joe Biden presided over the same-sex union of White House staffers Joe Mahshie and Brian Mosteller at his official residence, the Naval Observatory, on Monday. As this was the first time Biden had ever performed such a ceremony, he had to get a special temporary certification in D.C. to make it legal. Biden, a longtime proponent of same-sex marriage, is said to have been instrumental in President Obama’s decision to back gay marriage during their 2012 re-election campaign. Read more »

Jim Obergefell on Why “Love Wins” for LGBTQ Americans on This Valentine’s Day

Jim Obergefell is releasing a new book on his fight for marriage equality this summer. Photography courtesy of ACLU.

Jim Obergefell is releasing a new memoir on his fight for marriage equality this summer. Photograph courtesy of Jim Obergefell

This upcoming Valentine’s Day marks the first one since marriage equality became the law of the land. Looking back, have your views on love changed?
I wouldn’t say my views on love have necessarily changed, but they have deepened and become more poignant. I’ve watched couples fight for each other, I’ve watched parents fight out of love for their children, and I’ve watched our nation celebrate. I firmly believe that “love wins,” and that love can change the world. I learned that I can — and will — do anything to live up to the promises I make to the person I love and commit to. Read more »

(Updated) #MarriageEquality: The Reaction

[Updated with reaction and slideshow from a rally at the National Constitution Center, below.]

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that marriage is a fundamental right, and that states cannot prohibit gay and lesbian folks from marrying. The reaction has been overwhelming on social media, both in Philadelphia and around the country.

Visit Philadelphia was ready with an ad campaign:


And people from all walks of life celebrated:

Read more »

Supreme Court Decision on Gay Marriage: A Big Win

Breaking news: The United States Supreme Court has finally reached their decision on whether or not states can ban same-sex marriage and whether or not states must recognize legal same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The high court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the “Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex…And to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when a marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state.”

We’ll be out and about Philadelphia for the rest of the day getting reaction and watching the community celebrate.

Read the full Supreme Court decision with dissenting opinions below: Read more »

Get Text Message Alerts When the Supreme Court Releases Their Marriage Equality Decision



There’s a very good chance that the Supreme Court will issue their decision regarding Obergefell v. Hodges over the next several days (possibly at any moment), and the Human Rights Campaign is offering a way to get instant text message alerts sent directly to your phone when the historic ruling comes down.

As HRC President Chad Griffin said in an email communication this morning, “Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly when it will happen, since the Supreme Court does not announce in advance which decisions will be read.” However, by texting “MARRIAGE” to 30644, you will be enrolled in HRC’s “mobile action network.” Griffin claims that by joining, “you will be one of the first to know when news breaks at the Supreme Court.”

If you’re worried about getting a ton of spammy texts, the disclaimer from the HRC says that recipients will only get “2-3 messages per month.” Not a bad deal, considering the fact that you’ll be getting updates on what will be a historic ruling, indeed.

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

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!

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