In a press conference Wednesday at City Hall, the ACLU and Freedom to Marry announced the launch of Why Marriage Matters Pennsylvania, an educational endeavor to build support for marriage equality in the Keystone State.
The campaign, which will be spearheaded by Melissa Morris, will include initiatives like town-hall meetings and small-group trainings that will begin in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and spread statewide.
“It is about getting those one-on-one conversations — rolling it out on personal levels,” Morris said.
She said the campaign was inspired in part by the current litigation and also the growing support for same-sex marriage in the state.
“Pennsylvania has become a state that is more and more supportive of same-sex marriage. There won’t be anything happening in the near future for marriage, but we wanted to find ways to put it into people’s hands,” Morris said. “We didn’t want it to just be about the litigation; we wanted people to have a voice and promote the idea of supporting these couples.”
The new educational campaign will follow similar initiatives Freedom to Marry has been involved with in Ohio, New Mexico and Arizona. Morris said the national ACLU has also partnered with Freedom to Marry for other campaigns and said it seemed natural that the statewide ACLU partner with it as well for this campaign.
“It seemed natural that we used their vast experience. It is a big campaign and is statewide and the more support and help we can get, the better,” she said.
Why Marriage Matters Pennsylvania currently has 60 endorsements from businesses, organizations, legislators and faith-based communities throughout the state.
Funding for the campaign has come from the state and national ACLU and Freedom to Marry. The initiative also will accept public donations.
Morris’ work will be supported by several interns.
While the ACLU case is set for a June trial, Morris said the campaign allows people to get more directly involved with the fight for marriage equality in Pennsylvania.
“It is about having my voice heard and knowing I can talk to just one other person on why marriage is important. It gives me more power. I want to be helpful and find more ways to get the word out there,” she said. “It is about us taking back power and supporting the litigation. We want to empower Pennsylvanians.”
And the face-to-face education will highlight the importance of marriage equality beyond the law.
“It is important to understand why marriage matters to folks,” Morris said. “We should all have equal rights and show that marriage means the same thing to same-sex couples as it does to heterosexual couples.”
For more information on the campaign, visit www.marriagematterspa.org or email Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org.