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Freedom to Marry to NOM: This is What a Summer For Marriage Really Looks Like

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Amid the joy and drama of Argentina's historic embrace of the freedom to marry last week, there is a retro production unfolding in cities across the country this summer. Following up on its notorious "Gathering Storm" ad, the relentless anti-gay group, "National Organization for Marriage," has been pulling up to street corners and city squares, seeking new audiences for its agenda of division and discrimination. NOM's latest stunt is to peddle fear and anger from the back of a bus.

NOM is now on an anti-gay "Summer Tour" across 17 states and the District of Columbia. In announcing its media trek, NOM declared that "this is an urgent time for marriage," and that "strong families make strong neighborhoods... towns, cities, and states." We thought they were on to something. This summer should be about love, commitment and the crucial safety net that marriage brings... but we at Freedom to Marry believe that that's exactly why marriage matters to all families across this country.

Freedom to Marry and our state partners are responding to NOM's anti-gay bus show with our own Summer For Marriage Tour. Together with our local, state, and national partners, we've planned pro-marriage events across the country in July and August, calling on real families to tell their personal stories and talk about why marriage matters. We're rejecting NOM's divisiveness in favor of a simple message to our neighbors: "Love + Commitment = Marriage."

Fortunately, as the limp attendance at NOM's sad rallies -- and the latest national polling -- indicate, the market for NOM's brand of snake oil is drying up. While turnout at NOM's "rallies" shrinks each day, Freedom to Marry's Summer for Marriage Tour is outdrawing NOM, in some cases 3-to-1.

Case in point: Trenton, New Jersey last Tuesday. An estimated 48 anti-equality supporters huddled around NOM President Brian Brown's podium, buying into his usual distractions and misinformation about gay and lesbian couples and their families. Across town over 150 supporters of the freedom to marry showed up for a Town Hall quickly organized by Garden State Equality. Same-sex couples and their children, like 19-year-old Miriam Sharpfried, recounted the harms their families endured because of exclusion from marriage. Miriam's heartfelt story about her mothers underscored that civil union is no substitute for marriage and that the freedom to marry is the only way to meet the constitution's command of equality and basic respect for all families. Unlike the families plastered on NOM's anti-equality tour bus, the families that attended this town meeting were all real New Jersey families experiencing real harms, not stock photo images.

Freedom to Marry has always believed that the best way to change hearts and minds is to break the silence and share personal stories about why marriage matters to same-sex couples and their families. The evidence is on our side; we just need to make our stories heard.

Freedom to Marry will continue to demonstrate that there is nothing more American than embracing the Golden Rule and celebrating love, commitment, and equal protection under the law. We will bring this message with us to the upcoming events in Georgia, Maryland, and D.C. We will gather LGBT families and demonstrate that they share the same values of love and commitment as everyone else and the same desire to protect their families, through good times and bad.

We launched our Summer for Marriage because we know that we cannot allow the distractions, distortions, and discriminatory agenda of groups like NOM to go unanswered. In advertising their tour, NOM referred to supporters of the freedom to marry as the "iconoclasts" who "pillage the values of our Nation." Look how NOM is depicting gay families on this tour. They have derided loving adoptive parents, attacked single-parent homes, compared their anti-equality message to that of past civil rights movements, and, in their familiar ploy, tried to market themselves as "martyrs" and "victims" - as if gay couples were bussing around the country trying to take their rights away, rather than the other way around.

They have no real arguments, and their numbers are dwindling. So let NOM bus around, trying to market drummed-up "testimonials" and concoct media stunts to drape themselves in manipulative victimhood -- all in their familiar effort to distract from the reality that when committed couples join in marriage, families are helped and no one is hurt. Americans are now bearing moral witness to that reality with their own eyes in five states and the District of Columbia -- and in 12 countries on 4 continents. With our Summer for Marriage tour, Freedom to Marry, our local partners, and our supporters across the country will show America what being FOR marriage really looks like.