Freedom to Marry Day
- By JJ
What is Freedom to Marry Day?
Freedom to Marry Day is a non-official holiday in the United States to promote the freedom to marry a person without gender restrictions. The holiday was founded in 1998 by Lambda Legal, chosen to be on President Lincoln’s birthday (a time to think about freedom) and near Valentine’s Day (a time to think about love).
This holiday marks the time of year for people around the nation to press for the freedom to marry regardless of gender and to bring national attention to this cause. On this day, many activists tie knots around trees, signs, or anywhere they can to signify ‘tying the knot.’
The holiday is based on a 1983 thesis by Harvard Law student Evan Wolfson, who argued for the freedom of same-sex couples to marry. A notable celebration of this holiday was on February 12, 2004, when San Francisco issued marriage certificates to same-sex couples on the orders of Mayor Gavin Newsom.
On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of the freedom to marry nationwide. This made it possible for same-sex couples to marry, and it also became the first step in equal rightsfor the LGBTQ+ community. It has become the basis for fighting against any laws or regulations that try to exclude the gay community from the basic protections of the US Constitution. However, while the fight for marriage equality may be considered finished in the US, we still have a long way to go.
International Marriage Equality
As of December 2021, it was estimated that 30 countries have legalized same-sex marriage. Many countries (81 as of 2020) have also adopted protections against employment discrimination based on gender identify or sexual orientation (Council on Foreign Relations). However, there are still many countries that do not recognize same-sex marriage and even ban homosexuality. There are still countries that punish homosexuality with death. Only 30 of 195 recognized nations have legalized same sex marriage, which is about 15%. This means that the fight for marriage equality (and equality in general) is far from over. We aren’t even close to half of the countries around the world recognizing same-sex marriage.
What we can do about it
First, it’s important to celebrate how far we have come in the US in establishing the freedom to marry regardless of gender. This day is still important in celebrating love and showing how hard work and activism can lead to legal and political change. Talk about this day with friends and family. It’s important to celebrate together and hold on tight to the freedom to marry. There are still some conservative lawmakers who would like to take away this right. By talking about same-sex relationships and normalizing them, we can help ensure that the public, which remains overall lukewarm to same-sex couples having the freedom to marry, will pressure lawmakers to uphold this Supreme Court ruling.
In addition, it’s important to continue talking about the freedom to marry. There are still many countries where the LGBTQ+ are waiting and fighting for this right. Offering support and encouragement as they engage in the same fight towards equality that we have can help, and this holiday can serve as a reminder that there is hope.
Council on Foreign Relations: https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/marriage-equality-global-comparisons#chapter-title-0-5
Freedom to Marry: http://www.freedomtomarry.org/