Frances and Takako first met in 1980. In 2000, they held a commitment ceremony with their family and friends. And earlier this year, they legally married in Vermont.
Despite all of that – and because of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) – they are still facing imminent separation very soon.
Takako, who has been in the U.S. legally on a student visa, is scheduled to go out of status on July 4th. She and Frances turned to Immigration Equality’s legal team for help, and they are in the process of fighting their separation.
Frances and Takako are an amazing couple. And their story underscores why marriage equality at the state level – while a significant step forward, and a wonderful sign of progress – isn’t enough for gay and transgender couples. Until DOMA falls, or immigration laws are amended, couples like them continue to face separation every day.
Immigration Equality has launched a petition on Frances and Takako’s behalf. They are asking everyone to stand with this amazing couple and send a strong message – directly to President Obama – that he must stop deporting gay and transgender spouses and place a moratorium on those deportations until the courts, or Congress, have settled DOMA’s fate.
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The following is a video of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s speech last night about the passage of marriage equality in the Empire State. The governor is the finest example of true leadership!
Below is video of State Senator Grisanti’s speech last night on why he was voting YES on marriage equality. He and 3 of his fellow Republican peers stood up and decided they wanted to be on the right side of history!
In a historic vote this evening, the New York Senate passed marriage equality by a vote of 33 to 29! The Empire State now becomes the 6th and largest state in America to allow the freedom to marry for gay couples.
The following is a statement from Give a Damn Campaign founder Cyndi Lauper, a longtime advocate for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, about today’s passage of marriage equality in her home state of New York:
I have never been prouder to be a lifelong New Yorker than I am today with the passage of marriage equality. New York joins a growing number of states leading the nation towards the future we have always been destined for, a future where everyone is treated equally, with dignity and respect.
I am inspired by all of my fellow New Yorkers who stood with us and showed their support by contacting their state representatives, attending rallies and encouraging their family and friends to get involved. It is because of great citizens like them that civil rights for all, especially gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, continue to advance in this country.
I am equally inspired by the state assembly members and senators who stood by their convictions and voted “YES”. I am in awe of their decision, along with unwavering leaders like Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, to be on the right side of history.
New York also owes a debt of gratitude to the organizations and community leaders like the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Marry, the Empire State Pride Agenda and Broadway Impact for their dedication and commitment to making marriage equality a reality in the Empire State.
We are one nation and through this long effort people across the country proved that through their encouragement and support. Now, we must work to pass marriage equality in the 44 states left and they can count on us New Yorkers to be there for them as they were here for us.
It has been confirmed by multiple new sources that the New York Senate will vote on the marriage equality bill tonight. No one knows what time the vote will take place yet. You can watch live below:
UPDATE (12:20 PM 6/22/11):
We are still waiting on word if the vote on the marriage equality bill in New York will take place today or possibly tomorrow. Keep the calls and emails coming. Find out how you can take action below.
UPDATE (4:23 PM 6/20/11):
From our friends at the Human Rights Campaign: “It is clear that there are a number of issues still to be resolved in Albany which may result in the Legislature staying beyond the June 20th deadline. We are heartened that there continues to be respectful and productive dialogue on the issue of marriage equality and remain hopeful that all New Yorkers will soon be able to marry the person they love.”
UPDATE (10:21 PM 6/15/11):
1. The New York state Assembly just passed the marriage equality bill by a vote of 80-63!
2. The bill now heads to the New York state Senate. The current count of committed YES votes means we are just 1 vote away from marriage equality passing in the Empire State.
UPDATE (6:30 PM 6/14/11):
1. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo officially proposes the Marriage Equality Act today.
2. Another Republican state senator, Roy McDonald, has announced his support for the marriage equality bill. We are just now 1 vote away from it possibly passing this week!
3. The Human Rights Campaign has released Give a Damn founder Cyndi Lauper’s New Yorker for Marriage Equality PSA today. Check it out below.
We are down to the wire. This week is our last chance to pass marriage equality in New York before the state legislative session ends!
Yesterday, 4 New York state senators, 3 Democrats and 1 Republican, who had previously voted against marriage equality announced that they will vote YES on pending legislation that will grant gay couples the freedom to marry in the Empire State. This leaves only 2 votes left to ensure that the bill passes.
So, time is of the essence. If you live in New York, please contact your state senator today. If you have family and friends who live in New York, please urge them to contact their state senator as well. Now is the time to get involved!
Our friends at the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Marry and FriendFactor have made it very easy. Through each of their websites you can contact your state senator. It only takes a couple of minutes and you will make a big difference in ensuring marriage equality is passed in New York.
Here are some reasons why marriage equality is so important:
Give a Damn founder Cyndi Lauper (HRC’s New Yorkers for Marriage Equality)
Kathy Najimy and Dan Finnerty (Give a Damn Campaign)
Loving vs. Virginia (American Foundation for Equal Rights)
New Yorkers United for Marriage PSA
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According to TIME:
“In the largest study of its kind, government health officials report that gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers are significantly more likely to engage in risky, unhealthy behaviors — such as smoking, drinking, using drugs, having unprotected sex and contemplating suicide — than their straight peers.
“The new analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is based on data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, which were conducted from 2001 to 2009 and involved high-school students in seven states and six large urban school districts (including New York City, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Milwaukee and San Diego). The surveys asked teens about all manner of risky behaviors, including whether they had ever used heroin or tried throwing up to lose weight, their habits regarding unprotected sex, whether they drove after drinking alcohol, whether they wore seatbelts and bike helmets, carried a gun or drank soda every day. The surveys also asked about teens’ sexual orientation.
“What researchers found was that students who identified as being gay, lesbian or bisexual were more likely to report engaging in 70% of all the risk behaviors measured, compared with heterosexual students, particularly behaviors related to violence (like not going to school for fear of personal safety) or to attempted suicide (such as making a suicide plan), tobacco use, alcohol use, other drug use, sexual behaviors and weight management.
“The disparities were dramatic: for example, while 8% to 19% of straight teens reported smoking cigarettes, about 20% to 48% of gay teens reported the same. Bisexual teens reported the highest rates of many risky behaviors, even higher than gay and lesbian students; 33% to 63% of bisexual students reported binge drinking, for instance, compared with up to 16% to 44% of straight students and 17% to 44% of gay students.
“Why? Reported The Advocate:
“Much of what’s ailing these students can be attributed to a lack of ’safe and supportive environments,’ according to the CDC report, which mentioned a survey that found gay and lesbian students feel unsafe while at school.
“The CDC calls for state and local governments to do more — in the form of policies or programs such as gay-straight alliances — to combat what’s happening to gay youth. It also calls for better information. The center’s analysis was based on a common tool for judging the risk of students — called the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System — but in 2009, only 10 states and seven large school districts even asked whether the students were gay or bisexual.”
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According to The Chicago Sun-Times:
“Illinois’ new law allowing civil unions took effect Wednesday, and gay and lesbian couples began lining up hours before county clerk’s offices opened so they could be among the first to get a civil union license.
“More than 75 couples were in line by the time the doors opened early at 7:30 a.m. at the Cook County Building in downtown Chicago, where the vital records office will stay open until 7 p.m. to accommodate couples. Officials said they expect to issue about 2,000 licenses the first day.
“At the head of the line were Lakeesha Harris and Janean Watkins, who got there at midnight. The Chicago couple, together for 10 years, have six children and a home but say they always felt relegated to second-class status, until now.
“’We’ve been ostracized and relegated to the bottom rung of society,’ said Harris, 36. ‘I feel like this is some sort of justice for us, for our family. I’m so grateful. I’m thankful.’
“Civil unions give couples many of the rights that accompany traditional marriage, including the power to decide medical treatment for an ailing partner, the right to inherit a partner’s property and the ability to receive spousal employment benefits.
“The first civil union ceremonies under the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act can’t take place until Thursday, when dozens of couples are expected to participate in a mass ceremony at Chicago’s Millennium Park.
“The law that took effect Wednesday allows civil unions, not marriages, among same-sex couples, though it also recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states.
“Illinois now is among six states that allow same-sex couples benefits similar to those granted married couples.”
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- Learn more about Marriage
According to AFP:
“The vast majority of countries around the world have become more accepting of homosexuality, with the exception of Russia and other former socialist countries, a new study has found.
“The report, compiled by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, examined general trends in over 30 countries regarding their attitudes towards homosexuality, and is based on five surveys conducted in different countries between 1988 and 2008.
“Approval of homosexuality increased in 27 countries and decreased in only four: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Russia, the study noted.
“The growth in approval ratings was stronger than the decline.
“The study rated the top five most tolerant countries regarding homosexuality as the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, and Belgium, according to the survey.
“The bottom half of the list consisted of seven ex-socialist states, East Asian nations, Latin American countries and Cyprus, South Africa, and Turkey.
“In Russia, 59 percent of the population felt that homosexual behavior was wrong in 1991 compared with 64 percent in 2008, the study showed.”
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- Learn more about International
The following is an excerpt from an article by The Washington Post:
“In Room 8, the carpet is stained and the walls are bare, except for strips of tape that once held someone else’s photos. But to the 21-year-old getting dressed this morning, the room offers a measure of freedom she has never had: a place where, without judgment, she can slip on a flower-print blouse and shave her face. A place where no one knows Guy Jones, only Sarah Feliciano.
“’How does this look?’ Sarah asks, sweeping a cobalt blue powder over her eyes. Foundation the color of ’soft copper’ covers the rest of her face, hiding any hints of a shadow that monthly laser therapy and a daily shave might have missed.
“In the three-story brick house in Northeast Washington, there are eight bedrooms, each filled with a young person who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. And like Sarah — a transgender woman who until February was sleeping at Reagan National Airport, washing her hair with shampoo fished from the trash — each ended up homeless or close to it.
“As the District takes significant strides to advance the rights of LGBT residents — for example, recently legalizing same-sex marriage — the youths who pass through the Wanda Alston House tell of the vulnerability the community still faces. The house, named after an LGBT leader and mayoral adviser who was killed in 2005, is one of a handful of transitional houses in the nation that cater to people who experts say are more likely to become homeless and who, once in that category, pose challenges most shelter systems are unequipped to address. Should a transgender female be placed in a shelter with men or women? Where should a transgender male who still has the anatomy of a woman shower? What about a young gay man?”
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