This week, the folks at gay-rights advocacy center PROMO and the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri announced a new partnership as each organization moves forward to make Missouri a more LGBT-friendly state. That includes an effort to legalize same-sex marriage.
Cooperation between the two organizations is not new; they have long been coalition partners. PROMO executive director A.J. Bockelman explains that in the wake of the Supreme Court decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8, both offices have been getting calls from people who want to act now, now, now to bring same-sex marriage to Missouri.
"Oftentimes people are saying, 'I'd like to be a plaintiff in a case,'" Bockelman tells Daily RFT.
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While lawsuits have worked to legalize gay marriage in other states, Bockelman says, neither the staff of PROMO nor the ACLU-EM are prepared to go that route yet.
"Lawsuits aren't the way to win marriage at the state at this time," he says. "We are definitely committed to doing marriage. We don't necessarily know what's feasible."
The groups' news release says, "Missouri families deserve to win equality as soon as possible, but as tempting as they may be, quick fixes are not the answer. The historic victories that our movement has achieved across the country are the result of careful planning, long-term vision, and working together as a united community to create a shared plan."
Translation: If you're a local couple raring to be the test case that defeats Missouri's 2004 constitutional ban on gay marriage, cool your jets for now.
Still, the organizations say in the announcement that they are coming together to chart a path to full equality, including "the freedom to marry."
The release also promises a series of town halls around the state to gather supporters' stories and perspective on the best way to move forward, be it through legislation, litigation or other. Find out more at PROMO's website here.
"There is no straightforward, simple path," says Bockelman. "We are trying to evaluate what will be the most realistic way."
Here's the full announcement.
After DOMA: What's next for Missouri
Monday, July 22, 2013 (St. Louis, MO)--The Supreme Court decisions on DOMA and Prop 8 are tremendous victories and a signal that it is time to move forward for LGBT equality in Missouri. Our organizations are coming together to chart a path to full equality for LGBT Missourians, which will include protections against discrimination, as well as the freedom to marry.
Missouri families deserve to win equality as soon as possible, but as tempting as they may be, quick fixes are not the answer. The historic victories that our movement has achieved across the country are the result of careful planning, long-term vision, and working together as a united community to create a shared plan.
Missouri may not be ready for a marriage case today, but we are making progress in other areas. PROMO has a successful campaign to get municipalities throughout the state to pass ordinances that protect LGBT individuals from discrimination in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations. So far, there are 14 municipalities that now have protections in place and more are in the process.
The ACLU and PROMO are also setting up a series of town hall meetings to share information, give an overview of what federal benefits currently apply to legally married couples, gather stories, and develop strategies for next steps toward marriage in Missouri. We are asking for your input so we can move forward together and consider all possible paths through legislation, ballot initiatives, or litigation. The town hall meetings will begin this September in St. Louis, Columbia and Kansas City. Look for details to come soon.
In the meantime, the ACLU-EM and PROMO (http://promoonline.org/marriage.html) websites contain helpful information, such as Frequently Asked Questions about DOMA and a series of After DOMA fact sheets (http://www.aclu-em.org/issues/lgbt-rights/after-doma/) detailing many of the ways the federal government grants respect to married same-sex couples.
We are just as eager as you to make marriage equal in Missouri and hope that you will be able to join us at one of our upcoming town hall meetings. If we all work together, we are sure to succeed.
A.J. Bockelman Executive Director PROMO
Jeffrey A. Mittman Executive Director ACLU of Eastern Missouri