Five American organisations have announced a new initiative to elevate communities of colour who support marriage equality for same sex couples.

“The right-wing has perpetuated the idea that people of colour are overwhelmingly against marriage for same-sex couples, it is important that people see this for what it is, a half-baked myth that needs correcting,” said Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director of Lambda Legal.

“We are very pleased to have such strong coalition partners in this effort, together we can reach many communities who need to see that marriage equality matters to people of colour.”

Lambda Legal, National Black Justice Coalition, Asian Equality, National Latina/o Coalition for Justice and Freedom to Marry have teamed up to spearhead a campaign that reaches out not only to communities of colour, but white audiences as well. This initiative, launched in conjunction with Freedom to Marry Week, February 12-18, 2006, will feature African-American, Latino/a and Asian Pacific American people, gay and non-gay, standing up in support of ending discrimination in marriage. A further goal is to expose the myth perpetuated by the right-wing that people of colour are uniformly against marriage equality for same-sex couples.

The group has kicked off its campaign with a widespread web presence featuring online banner ads. The banner ads, which feature a diverse array of people of colour wearing t-shirts that read “Marriage Equality Matters,” depict the wide-ranging support marriage equality has across the country. The group is also planning a photo exhibit appearing in venues across the country that will be in full swing during lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pride month in June.

Same-gender-loving, black families have more to lose if we are denied the responsibilities and protections of marriage,” said H. Alexander Robinson, Chief Executive Officer of the National Black Justice Coalition. “On average, black same-gender-loving women are more likely to be raising children, black gay families earn less and are more likely to have public sector jobs than our white peers. The black family is a fundamental driver of black advancement, so discriminatory policies that further marginalise black gay families put the entire black community at risk.”

“The most important thing Latinas/os can do is to be vocal and open about our support for justice and equality,” said Lisbeth Melendez Rivera, National Convener for the National Latina/o Coalition for Justice. “Marriage equality will become a reality, we know it, our opposition knows it, hence the desperation to create the illusion that Latinas/os don’t believe in marriage for same-sex couples. Protecting our familias is core to us. Marriage equality will guarantee security and justice for ALL Latino families and that is worth fighting for.”

“Marriage equality matters to Asian Pacific Americans (APA) because it confers important protections for our families, and nothing is more important to our community than making sure our families are safe, healthy and intact,” said Andy Shie Kee Wong, Coalition Manager of Asian Equality.

“Indeed, for many APA same-sex couples, this struggle for equality is as much about challenging our second-class status as it is about safeguarding our families and children.”

“This is an exciting time in our growing civil rights movement for marriage equality,” said Samiya Bashir, communications director of Freedom to Marry. “The Marriage Equality Matters campaign demonstrates the power of engaging the public and showing them the reality of marriage equality, rather than right-wing rhetoric and scare tactics. When it comes to opening hearts and minds to fairness and reaching the diverse communities who make up our American landscape seeing is, in fact, believing.”

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