by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
Pride Foundation announced this week it is spearheading Why Marriage Matters Washington, a public education campaign about why marriage matters to the LGBT community.
Kris Hermanns, the Pride Foundation's executive director, told SGN that Why Marriage Matters Washington is the 'hearts and minds' work in helping people understand why marriage matters for loving and committed same-sex couples.
It is important to note that Washington United for Marriage and Why Marriage Matters Washington are not the same campaign. Instead the education campaign is a distinct and separate initiative aimed at helping people have conversations with friends, family, colleagues, faith communities, and communities of color about the freedom to marry.
Hermanns says the goal is to help spread the word about the importance and positive impact of the universal freedom to marry here in Washington. 'In collaboration with local, regional, and national partners, Pride Foundation's comprehensive statewide public education project will focus on media and outreach components,' she said.
On the media side of the fence, Pride Foundation says Why Marriage Matters Washington will work on television advertising, featuring real people telling real stories with messages that highlight why marriage matters to them. The outreach component will engage local leaders in communities of color and faith communities, and within families with school-aged children, through telling their personal stories about why marriage equality is important and transformative for them.
Public support for allowing same-sex couples to marry has grown significantly over the last decade.
'Years of important and courageous public and private conversations have helped move individuals and the societal barometer toward being supportive of the freedom to marry for all,' said Hermanns.
'But we know that having conversations about marriage equality can sometimes be awkward or need delicate navigation,' she continued. 'As part of Pride Foundation's education campaign, we have created www.WhyMarriageMattersWashington.org to provide you with helpful tools and tips to get the conversation started.'
According to Why Marriage Matters Washington, marriage is the ultimate expression of commitment and responsibility for the person you love. As more Americans consider what it means to allow same-sex couples to join in civil marriage, Hermanns says, many of them may have questions about what it means and how it works. Why Marriage Matters Washington hopes to arm people with the answers to those questions.
Like any campaign, Why Marriage Matters Washington is looking for donations. Although Pride Foundation and Freedom to Marry received essential support from individual donors and national funders to start the campaign, they ask that people come forward and contribute.
Hermanns told SGN that this public education effort is time-limited. In other words, all funds raised for this effort will be spent by the conclusion of the project later this fall. That, she said, will assure donors that the money they give will go directly toward public outreach and media.
The case could be made that a donation now means saving money later. Ending discrimination against same-sex couples with regard to marriage will save taxpayers money while boosting the economy. Federal recognition of the freedom to marry would result in nearly $1 billion of yearly savings for the federal government. Weddings for same-sex couples will result in an estimated $9.5 billion windfall for the American economy. In the state of Washington, the Williams Institute estimates, marriage for same-sex couples could add $88 million to the economy over a three-year period.
Hermanns says she wants people to know that Pride Foundation is not a one-issue organization. 'Every day, through Pride Foundation's LGBTQ-focused grants and scholarship programs, we know that our community has concerns that go beyond marriage equality,' she said.
'Those most vulnerable in our community still need access to basic support and services in the areas of employment, education, housing, and health care,' said Hermanns. 'We, as a community, cannot stop until everyone can live freely, safely, and with full dignity and protection.'
But for now, marriage equality is the one campaign we are all locked into - whether we like it or not.
'We are in this game-changing moment together,' concluded Hermanns. 'We may never have the chance again in the Northwest to so directly define, lead, and spotlight the pathway to full equal rights.'
For more information about Why Marriage Matters Washington, visit www.WhyMarriageMattersWashington.org.
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