On this Valentine's Day, there are several actions around the United States to promote marriage equality.
- In Illinois, the state Senate is expected to vote on a bill that would bring marriage equality to that state. Some senators have billed the vote, a Valentine's Day gift to the people of Illinois.
- Supporters of marriage equality in Minnesota are making a Valentine's Day push, holding a rally at the State Capitol.
- Oregon marriage equality advocates are kicking off efforts today to place a marriage equality measure on the 2014 ballot.
- Legislators in Texas filed a bill to remove the marriage ban in that state and allow for marriage equality.
So many people and organizations are using Valentine's Day, with its themes of love, to make the push for marriage equality. As we know, love, combined with commitment is what makes a marriage. Those who advocate for marriage equality can leverage the sentiment of love in order to drive their point home even further.
However, what many may not realize is that Valentine's Day has historic and religious roots that make this the perfect day to publicaly call for marriage equality.
The History Channel explains it on their website. Each day, the History Channel features "This Day in History" and today they tell the historic legend of Valentine's Day.
According to one legend, the Roman Emperor Claudius banned all marriages to bolster his political and military power. He thought that family life was hurting his efforts to recruit young soldiers, and so he banned engagements and marriage throughout the empire.
Valentine was a Christian priest in Rome. He did not believe that government should ban marriages between people who loved each other, and he continued to marry couples secretly.
Until he was caught.
He was tried, beaten, imprisoned, and beheaded…all because he fought for marriage, despite a government ban. And because of his great service to the Christian Church, he was named a saint. To this day, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. Valentine.
Here in 2013 in the United States, popular culture celebrates with chocolates, flowers, cards, and dinner dates. However, the best modern-day comparisons to St. Valentine would be those faith leaders who continue to fight for marriage equality for all couples:
- Methodists In New Directions (MIND) has proclaimed that the call to provide pastoral care for gay and lesbian couples is more urgent than policies and laws that prevent such action.
- More Light Presbyterians is organizing teaching elders whose ministry is negatively impacted by policies that prevent them from performing weddings for all couples.
- ReconcilingWorks is organizing faith volunteers to fight for marriage equality in states where it does not yet exist.
- Equally Blessed is a coalition of Catholic LGBT organizations who recognizes that marriage strengthens families, communities, and whole societies. They continue to call out for marriage equality, despite opposition from Roman Catholic hierarchy.
So while you are celebrating your relationship, or wishing you were in one, remember that the day is a day to advocate for marriage equality for all couples. Thanks to The History Channel for reminding us that Valentine's Day is the perfect day to fight for marriage equality. As we watch advances in states across the country, and as we prepare for Supreme Court hearings on Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, remember that history and tradition are on our side, and we celebrate that history every February 14.