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Straight couple launches project for marriage equality with Canadian wedding


March 28, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Angry about the denial of basic equal marriage rights to gay and lesbian Americans, a straight couple has launched a new project to provide allies in the fight for marriage equality with a way to be heard. Their first effort happened last week when they took their wedding ceremony out of the U.S. and to Canadian soil.

"It originally felt strange politicizing our personal lives, but the truth is that getting married is a political act," said Holly DeeAnn Smith, bride and now civil rights activist. "At a time when Congress is again considering a constitutional marriage ban and many states have barred gay couples from adopting, we couldn't help but reflect on our privilege to marry."

Her husband, Tarek Farouk Maassarani, explained their decision by saying, "Gay and lesbian Canadians have marriage equality, and we wanted to show our support for them as well as our rejection of American marriage discrimination, so we decided to hold our wedding in Canada."

On March 18, 2006, the pair was married in Montreal.

Smith and Maassarani, who met in 2001 while in college, found that when contemplating marriage, they wrestled with the question of entering into the American marriage contract – something they view as steeped in discrimination against gay and lesbian citizens.

"We resent the fact that our government systematically denies gay and lesbian Americans – people just like us in every respect – the right to marry with its legal benefits, regardless of their level of commitment, contributions to their communities, and desire to make a life-long promise to one another," Smith said.

Enthusiastic to expand this protest beyond their personal lives, they have had fruitful dialogue with gay advocacy groups about developing a larger campaign, the Straight Alliance for Marriage Equality (SAME), to urge other sympathetic couples to do the "same."

"In order for our nation to change, we need to take action and this is one way for the millions of straight allies to start sending a strong message: marriage equality matters to us, too," the couple said.

In the upcoming months, they plan on reaching out to other heterosexual couples who have this concern and developing a network to support marriage equality, lobby legislators, and provide tools for others who want to join in the effort. They are also planning a "celebration of love" in the U.S. this summer where they will explain their decision to family and friends, and help raise money for the cause. – Issued by Gay Link Content


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