Washington, D.C. —
By plane, train and automobile Americans are heading home for Thanksgiving, and a coalition of LGBT civil rights groups say it is the perfect time to talk turkey with the family.
"With the religious and political right going into overdrive after last week's marriage decision in Massachusetts, we need everyone to speak directly and honestly with family and friends over Thanksgiving and ask for their help and support," said Matt Foreman, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, one of the sponsoring organizations.
Conservatives are mounting efforts in states and nationally to enact constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. The organizations are heavily funded, one group alone is amassing $10 million for a mass media campaign condemning gay rights. (story)
"Because we so rarely talk about it, most of our relatives and friends have no idea how few rights lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people have or that the religious and political right are launching a vicious and dehumanizing campaign against us under the guise of the 'threat of gay marriage,' said David Tseng, Executive Director of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
" Moreover, most of us have never asked our family and friends to take a stand for us. Now is that time," Tseng said.
Legislation to amend the Constitution is before the justice committee in the House of Representatives. Following the Massachusetts court decision the number of GOP cosponsors has grown and it is expected a parallel bill will soon be introduced in the Senate. An amendment requires two-thirds approval of both the House and Senate and ratification by three-quarters of the states.
"All across this country - including right here in Massachusetts - elected officials will be 'taking the temperature' of voters on this issue," said Josh Friedes of the Freedom to Marry Coalition of Massachusetts.
"We need to make sure the voices of fair minded people are heard, and not drowned out by those who want to permanently relegate us to second-class citizenship. Our elected leaders must understand that same-sex couples who seek civil marriage are affirming the traditional values of love, commitment and mutual concern that all healthy families - gay or straight - share."
The Massachusetts court gave the legislature 180 days to amend the law and allow same-sex couples to marry, but some state legislators, with the backing of Gov. Mitt Romney support civil unions rather than marriage. (story) In addition, the state is considering an amendment to the Massachusetts constitution barring same-sex marriage.
"It is critical that those who support fairness and equality for same-sex couples make our voices heard, said Nadine Smith, Co-Chair of the Federation of Statewide LGBT Organizations, and Executive Director of Equality Florida.
"The next few weeks are a critical moment in the struggle for full equality. We all need to emphasize to those close to us that this is not some abstract, political debate. Instead, we need to let our loved ones know that it's personal and ask each one of one of them to stand beside us and to speak out for us when the attacks and jokes come."
by Doreen Brandt
This article originally appeared on 365gay.com. Republished with permission.