The Queer Resource Center has established a new branch of The National Marriage Boycott (NMB) here at the Claremont Colleges.
Lowell Reade HM ’12 and Allie Foot CM ’10 helped bring the student-led movement, which advocates for the revocation of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), to campus.
In 1996, President Clinton instated DOMA, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman and declares that states that prohibit same-sex marriage do not need to recognize couples who were married in another state. Under the law, homosexual couples are denied many federal rights, including next-of-kin status for medical decisions, visitation rights for spouses and children, returns for filing taxes jointly, and protection against domestic abuse. One of President Obama’s campaign promises was to fully repeal DOMA, but he has not yet acted on the issue.
In order to make a public statement against the federal legislation, members of NMB pledge to refrain from marriage until Congress repeals DOMA and legalizes same-sex marriage. Members may choose to wear an Equality Ring in place of a wedding band to symbolize their commitment. The movement has gained support from the LGBTQ community and its allies, including many married couples who have lent their support by wearing an equality ring in addition to their wedding rings.
Reade described participating in NMB as a means of “walking in someone else’s shoes.”
She also praised the movement for creating a new and more concrete way to show support for the LGBTQ community.
“Many people…don’t want to be the sort of person that is going to protests and being…silent,” she said. “[NMB is] a new kind of activism.”
A group at Stanford University formed the organization in reaction to the passage of Proposition 8 in California, and the NMB has been active since November of 2008. Since then, its influence has grown—the Stanford branch, especially, has garnered national recognition, including television coverage at the Equality March in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 11, 2009.
The Claremont branch, still in its beginning stages, has sold 40 rings since November and is planning to hold an event soon to gain visibility and members.
Foot and Reade admitted that, for many students, making the decision to hold off on marriage may be a daunting prospect. However, Foot said they are more concerned with raising awareness than simply gaining members.
“It’s not just that we’re trying to get the number [of members] super high,” Foot said. “That would be great—to show there’s people that support it—but it’s also just those conversations…they make the difference.”
As an organization, NMB is not satisfied with the legalization of same-sex marriage on a state-by-state basis. Its slogan is, “We won’t until we all can.”
“Even if a state does allow same-sex marriage,” Reade said, “your state benefits and state rights are there…but those federal rights make a big difference, and [so does] being able to go to another state and say that we’re married in any state we go to.”
To learn more about NMB or become a member, email Foot and Reade at firstname.lastname@example.org.