To celebrate Valentine’s Day, several gay rights groups are organizing actions at courthouses and other places where marriages are performed. GetEQUAL, Marriage Equality USA, and a number of local groups around the country have pitched the events as a modern-day equivalent of the Civil Rights Movement’s lunch-counter protests.
In Phoenix, activists are planning to show up at the Centennial Marriage Event, wherein couples can mark the state’s 100th anniversary by getting married en masse in a plaza outside of the Arizona Courts Building. They just have pay the $72 fee for the marriage license and “meet Arizona’s statutory requirements”—which currently only allow heterosexual marriages. GetEQUAL says on its website that the event “highlights the inequality and state-enforced discrimination against citizens of Arizona,” which is why the group is hoping to get a bunch of same-sex couples out there to protest.
Similar actions for couples who want to go apply for marriage licenses are planned in California, Ohio, New Mexico, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming. For the event in Austin, organizers told couples to make sure they bring the $71 needed to get a marriage license, adding, “You may be turned down, meaning you will get to keep your money.”
Similar actions have been held on past Valentine’s Days, but this year’s protest is both the biggest to date and the most significant, Heather Cronk, managing director of GetEQUAL, told Mother Jones. In recent weeks, a federal appeals court struck down California’s ban on gay marriages, Washington State approved a new law allowing gay marriage, and the New Jersey state Senate approved a bill on marriage equality.
“It’s really exciting to be celebrating folks who are getting more equal,” said Cronk. “These protests and rallies and actions are a reminder that we’re not equal yet, and we have a lot more work to do.”