Same-sex couples use holiday to raise point
Marriage protests staged nationwide
NEW YORK - Hundreds of same-sex couples seeking to wed were turned away from marriage license counters around the nation yesterday, part of an annual protest that took on renewed urgency in light of recent setbacks in the gay marriage movement.
Activists in Manhattan wearing signs that said "Just Not Married" were part of a wave of demonstrations throughout the day at marriage bureaus or county clerks' offices from New York City to California, in communities large and small.
Matt Flanders, 37, of Brooklyn participated with his 29-year-old partner, Will Jennings. Both wore gold engagement rings.
When he was denied a marriage license, Flanders said, he told officials: " 'I should be able to marry the person I love.' And they said, 'We can only offer you a domestic partnership.' "
Micah Stanek, 23, stood outside in a floor-length wedding veil after he and his partner were rejected.
He said he moved to New York from San Francisco after gay marriage was outlawed in California in a November vote.
"New York is especially important because the rest of the country follows what happens here," he said.
The Valentine's week protests, part of the 12th annual Freedom to Marry Week, were considered especially important this year because they come after California's Proposition 8 referendum that overturned gay marriage, and just as New Yorkers look to their state Senate to pass legislation that could lead to legalized gay marriage.
In Augusta, Maine, dozens of proponents of gay marriage gathered outside the Maine House and Senate to distribute Valentine's Day cards while urging support for a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.
In St. Paul, where a same-sex marriage bill is making its way through the Legislature, dozens of people rallied at the state Capitol to show their support.
Under a banner that read "Legalize Love," state legislators vowed to push the bill.