Young Activists Devise New Methods to Speak to New Yorkers about Marriage Equality

Soulforce Right to Marry Campaign Wins Hearts and Minds Across the State

For Immediate Release
Contact: Haven Herrin, Soulforce Q Co-Director
Cell: 469-867-5725

(New York state) — On July 14th, a group of young adults from New York and across the country set out to speak with the citizens of New York and their legislators about marriage equality. In the first ten days of the "Right to Marry" campaign, these young people have devised a variety of creative and unconventional means to engage with local communities.

But while the medium has ranged from witty t-shirts to wedding cake, the message has remained consistent: the Right to Marry campaign asks New Yorkers to envision a society in which all couples and families are protected by the rights and responsibilities of civil marriage.

The campaign kicked off with a visit to the office of State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. Bruno emerged as a key figure in the struggle for marriage equality in New York when Governor Eliot Spitzer introduced a bill that would grant same-sex couples the same status, benefits, and protections that heterosexual couples enjoy. The bill passed in the state Assembly, but the Senate did not act on the legislation in the 2007 session.

When young adults from the Right to Marry campaign visited Bruno’s office, they shared their views and stories with staffers and left an unorthodox calling card: a pair of shoes. Right to Marry participant Brian Murphy left Bruno a pair of his shoes and a narrative about how marriage equality would impact his quality of life, in the hopes that Bruno would "walk a mile in his shoes."

As Right to Marry teams cross the state on four different routes, they are urging other New Yorkers to send their shoes and their stories to the Majority Leader, in order to promote empathy and understanding for the ways in which marriage equality affects real lives and families. For more information, go to:

But sending shoes to the Majority Leader is just the beginning. In their efforts to create a statewide dialogue about marriage equality, the young adults of Right to Marry (RTM) are using innovative approaches to connect directly with the citizens of New York:

On July 18, RTM riders on the western route handed out free wedding cake on the streets of Elmira, New York, along with fliers outlining the difficulties that gay and lesbian couples currently face in creating legal protections for their relationships.

On July 20, RTM riders on the northern route visited the Saratoga County Fair wearing t-shirts that asked "Do you believe in marriage? I do." The t-shirts inspired conversations with high school students, workers, parents, and grandparents.

On July 22, two RTM riders, Jarrett Lucas and Alex Lundy, performed at the Hardware Cafe in Buffalo. Their spoken word piece, entitled "Genesis," explored marriage equality from two perspectives. It caught the attention of a local radio producer, who invited them to record it for her show the next day.

In their efforts to create cultural and legislative momentum for marriage equality, the young adults of RTM have not overlooked more traditional approaches, including meeting with long-standing New York equality activists and meeting directly with local elected officials, including mayors and members of the state Assembly and the Senate.

On July 23, riders on the central route met with staffers for Assemblyman Tom McKevitt, who last week became a father for the first time.

"The Senator’s personal experience with family provided a tangible forum in which to discuss good public policy. We too will have families that need to be protected, and we hope that Senator McKevitt can understand that we are here not asking the state for anything other than the tools to care for those we love." said Haven Herrin, one of the co-directors of the Right to Marry campaign.

Soulforce Q is the young adult division of Soulforce, a social justice organization that works to end political and religious oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through relentless nonviolent resistance.