The Pursuit of Life, Liberty and Happiness
Lisa Polyak & Gita Deane were lead plaintiffs in litigation against the state of Maryland which challenged the constitutionality of denying marriage licenses to same-gender couples. The couple of 30 years remain vocal, visible leaders in the efforts to achieve marriage equality in Maryland and across the country.
The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters on Wednesday, July 20, 2011. You can sign-up for these emails here.
This week the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear for the very first time testimony regarding the discrimination faced by gay and lesbian families due to marriage inequality. The first-ever hearing on repealing the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed by Congress in 1996, is scheduled for today. Finally, the real effects of DOMA will be reckoned with the rhetoric that coerced its passage.
For the two of us, marriage inequality has meant navigating moments when our family was threatened with dissolution due to immigration status, being forcibly separated by medical staff during the birth of our daughter, and never being able to share the essential protection of family health insurance — all for want of a civil marriage license
Now, with DOMA being aggressively challenged in the federal judiciary, the President of the United States endorsing its repeal, and a hearing this week on that very prospect, it’s clear the beginning of the end of DOMA is already here. Public policy must answer to public opinion, and recent polling shows that the American public is no longer willing to tolerate the second-class status of gay and lesbian couples and their families.
As members of Congress consider the testimony of families like ours in favor of repeal, it is essential that they hear from fair-minded citizens like you who want your laws to reflect your values– values of compassion and equality and love.
Will you take a moment and let your members of Congress know that you wholeheartedly support repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act?
In the 8 years that we have been advocates for marriage equality, we have come to know that there is no demographic litmus test when it comes to those who support equality. Our friends and allies come from all political parties, all races, all religions and ideologies. Equality transcends these superficial differences – and Congress needs to hear that those who support marriage equality do, too.
Later this year we will celebrate our 30th anniversary as a couple. Although it is not a wedding anniversary, we take comfort in the fact that we have been blessed with good health, steady work, wonderful children, and the capacity to navigate the challenges that life has brought us. It is our hope that in the very near future, anniversaries will be only for celebration of what was achieved – not for wistfulness of what might have been.
This week, elected officials and policymakers are being called to account for laws that deny our families equal treatment. Congress will no longer be able to avert its gaze from the faces of our families, our hopes, or our harms.
Please join us as we raise our voices to Congress and insist that all loving families be afforded the dignity and protection of civil marriage.
The harm suffered by our lack of legal connection did not defeat us. The indignity suffered by our children did not deter us. The simple reality of our lives has transcended the stereotype and the prejudice. We now claim our place – openly – in our communities, workplaces, schools and houses of worship. We are, and have always been, entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Lisa Polyak & Gita Deane