Californians for Civil Marriage (CCM), a project of the Tides Center, is an innovative effort that has emerged as a leader in the 'Freedom to Marry' movement in California by coordinating existing discrete efforts to win the freedom to marry and by creating momentum for strategy discussions and development among leaders of California's diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community. CCM's goal is to create a climate where public policies around marriage can and will be equalized.
“Our objective is to increase public support for same-sex marriage by 10%” according to Mike Marshall, Executive Director of CCM. “Current Polls indicate 45% of California voters support the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples. Once a majority of voters support our right to get married, we are confident either the courts or the legislature will change California's discriminatory marriage law.”
In California alone, more than 900 state laws and over 1,000 federal laws strengthen and protect a married couple's relationship. In contrast, the legal relationship between gay or lesbian couples is recognized through only 13 domestic partnership laws – and in zero federal laws. This means that same-sex couples in California can access less than one percent of the rights, privileges and responsibilities that come with marriage.
“After the passage of the Knight Initiative, I realized we needed to design and invest in long-term public education programs.” said David Bohnett. “I am excited by the leadership of Californians for Civil Marriage and their ability to engage our community's allies in this effort.”
Discriminating against loving committed couples who may choose to marry is not only homophobic – it is distinctly un-American. Marriage discrimination reinforces the myth that intimate relationships between individuals of the same gender are less valued than relationships between a man and a woman. As long as the government persists in treating same-sex relationships as inherently less than heterosexual relationships – through determined policies that withhold the right to marry – then homophobia is, in effect, official government policy. Any formal policy that denigrates one category of Americans diminishes every American.
Through the generosity of the Bohnett Foundation, CCM hopes to build majority support for same-sex marriage among California voters by 2007. It is our belief that, once a majority of Californians support equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples, the existing public policy of discrimination against these families will change either through legal or legislative efforts.