By Julie Bolcer
Originally published on Advocate.com October 19 2011 10:30 AM ET
The Human Rights Campaign on Wednesday launched Americans for Marriage Equality, an ongoing public engagement initiative that features videos of prominent Americans talking about their support for the freedom of same-sex couples to marry.
Newark, New Jersey, mayor Cory Booker, a rising star in the Democratic Party, appears in the first video. Elected in 2006, he has declined to officiate weddings for any couples until he can marry all his residents equally.
“I support it because from my earliest of ages I made a pledge that we will be a nation with liberty and justice for all,” says Booker in the 30-second video. “I support marriage equality because I believe in the 14th Amendment: ‘equal protection under the law.’ And I support marriage equality because I support love and in this nation we need a lot more of it.”
The campaign aims to put visibility on marriage equality nationwide as polls consistently show majority public support and high-profile battles loom on multiple fronts. Cases against Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act continue to wind through the federal court system, while last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced it would soon hold a markup and vote on the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill to repeal DOMA that recently gained its first Republican co-sponsor in the House. Meanwhile, ballot initiatives are under consideration in North Carolina and Minnesota for 2012, with prospective contests in Maine and Oregon, and marriage equality legislation is anticipated in legislatures in Maryland, Washington state, and New Hampshire.
“Americans for Marriage Equality will help drive the national conversation on marriage equality at a critical time as the issue moves through the electoral, legislative, and judicial arenas,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese in a statement. “We look forward to changing more minds.”
The campaign, which currently appears online but could be placed elsewhere, will feature the widest possible range of figures with national appeal including professional athletes, film and music celebrities, and political and civil rights leaders. HRC said it also planned to roll out targeted videos over the coming months playing off the “Americans” brand, including Republicans for Marriage Equality, African-Americans for Marriage Equality, and Elected Officials for Marriage Equality.
Americans for Marriage Equality follows statewide video campaigns tailored to local conditions in New York, which passed a bill in June, and in Maryland. Earlier this month, Governor Martin O’Malley launched the Marylanders for Marriage Equality series, a coalition effort sponsored by HRC and numerous other partners.