Project Runway mentor Tim Gunn (an Out100 honoree) lends his voice to a whimsical animated video that explains the ACLU's latest campaign to raise awareness about the inequality where same-sex marriage is allowed and where it remains illegal.
The "My Big Gay (Il)legal Wedding" contest will help five same-sex couples go the extra mile down the aisle to "travel by elephant, skydive or even by hot air balloon across snow, forests, and deserts" to a state "where it is legal to marry," as Gunn states as his animated figure parachutes through the sky. Couples should send in their "most dazzling and memorable ideas" for their wedding. The contest calls attention to the "patchwork of state laws that allow same-sex couples the freedom to marry in 16 states and the District of Columbia, but deny those same couples that freedom in the rest of the country," according to the organization's release.
"The freedom to marry the person you love is a basic freedom that should not be denied to anyone, including gay and lesbian couples who want to stand in front of family and friends to make a lifetime commitment to each other," Tim Gunn said. "I'm proud to support the ACLU in its efforts to ensure that all Americans have the freedom to marry the person they love no matter where they live." The ACLU was the first to bring a lawsuit involving LGBT rights to the courts, with the 1936 First Amendment case against Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour, which was being censored and banned for its "lesbian content." The organization has been involved in legal cases that have furthered lesbian and gay rights ever since, including the Supreme Court case that dismantled DOMA earlier this year.
James Esseks, the director of the ACLU LGBT Project, was one of the attorneys, along with Robbie Kaplan, who defended Edie Windsor in her lawsuit. He spoke to us about the impetus for this campaign, which he hopes will help raise awareness and continue the evolution the country is going through in regards to marriage equality.
"It's a continuation of the good feelings and outpouring of support after [the DOMA case]. Edie is an unparalleled spokesperson, the client of a lifetime, and maybe we'll find another Edie through this contest," Esseks explained, careful to note that this is not a vehicle for generating more litigaion. "But it's not just about a charming lady in New York City, marriage equality is about people, and this is a new way to spark conversation-- in blue parts and red parts of the country. Most of live in somewhat 'purple' combinations and public opinion is changing."
Esseks commented that it's been "beathtaking and exhilirating" to witness the country go from six states plus D.C. that allowed same-sex marriage to 16 in the past year. "I did not expect to see change happen so fast." He hopes the momentum continues and people don't think this is inevitable and it will happen on its own. "We can win this if people understand that it's going to be hard to keep moving, to keep getting more states. People need to know that many people still face relationship and marriages that are not respected once they cross an arbitrary border, an imaginary line. It doesn't make any sense."