Senator Reed: It’s time to repeal DOMA

Today, we're excited to announce that we're joining with Marriage Equality Rhode IslandOcean State Action, and Courage Campaign to ask Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed to cosponsor the Respect for Marriage Act, the bill that will overturn DOMA.

Although same-sex couples cannot legally marry in Rhode Island, the Ocean State does recognize marriages from out of state, meaning that couples who cross the border to marry in Massachusetts still feel the sting of federal marriage discrimination. And now, all eyes are set on Senator Reed, who is the only member of the Rhode Island Congressional delegation who has yet to cosponsor the Respect for Marriage Act.

In the coming week, thousands of fair-minded Rhode Islanders will sign our letter calling on the Senator to stand up for Rhode Island families. Then, along with MERI, Ocean State Action and Courage Campaign, we'll hand-deliver the signatures to Senator Reed's office. 

As part of the campaign, MERI is releasing a video of Deb Tevyaw, the widow of Pat Baker, a Rhode Island corrections officer and marriage activist who passed away in August from lung cancer.  During the last months of her life, Baker fought to ensure that her widow, whom she had legally married in Massachusetts, would have access to Social Security survivor benefits and other protections that come with federal recognition of a marriage currently denied under DOMA. It's a truly heartbreaking story and one that needs to be told. Check out the video: 


The launch of this campaign comes just a couple weeks after we successfully partnered with Courage Campaign and Equality Maryland to deliver nearly 3,000 signatures to Senator Barbara Mikulski's office urging her to support DOMA repeal. Days after our Federal Director Jo Deutsch delivered the signatures to her office, Senator Mikulski announced that she would sign on as a cosponsor.

If you're a Rhode Islander, take action now! Sign the letter and then share it with your friends and family to help us gather more signatures.


Below is the email that Michael Crawford, our Director of Online Programs, sent to Freedom to Marry supporters in Rhode Island this afternoon:

From: Michael Crawford, Freedom to Marry
Date: Tues, Sept 27, 2011 at 2:01 PM
Subject: Senator Reed: It's time to repeal DOMA 

When Pat Baker, a retired corrections officer from Warwick, learned that she had terminal lung cancer, she knew that she had to do everything she could to ensure that her family was protected.

Pat knew that because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), her wife Deborah would be unable to receive her Social Security survivor benefits when she passed away. 

From that moment, Pat went into action lobbying her members of Congress to support the Respect for Marriage Act, the bill that would repeal DOMA.  When she was too sick to walk, Pat called legislators from her hospital bed, urging them to end federal marriage discrimination. Sadly, Pat passed away on August 14th.  

Freedom to Marry is teaming up with Marriage Equality Rhode Island, Ocean State Action, and Courage Campaign to urge your Senator Jack Reed to support the Respect for Marriage Act.

Will you join us by adding your name to our letter calling on Senator Reed to cosponsor the Respect for Marriage Act? Click to sign the letter and we’ll deliver your signatures personally to Senator Reed’s office:

Pat dedicated her life to standing up for what’s right and in the process became a critical voice in the fight for marriage in Rhode Island and the fight to end federal discrimination.

DOMA has harmed too many families like Pat and Deborah.  It’s time for the discrimination to end. Senator Reed’s support will help us build the momentum we need to end DOMA once and for all.

Help carry on Pat’s legacy. Sign the letter urging Senator Reed to cosponsor the Respect for Marriage Act and we’ll personally deliver your signature.


Thanks for helping us get one step closer,

Michael Crawford

Director of Online Programs