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An Ally's Guide to Talking About Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

The Bottom Line

Public support for allowing same-sex couples to marry is growing significantly, with national polls now consistently showing that a majority of Americans support the freedom to marry. This surge in support has followed years of important public and one-on-one conversations about marriage and same-sex couples—conversations that have helped move people away from being undecided on an “issue” and toward being supportive of marriage for loving, committed couples.

Among the building blocks for those conversations: a focus on the core values that embody marriage for same-sex and opposite-sex couples alike; helping people recognize that they wouldn’t want to deny others that indispensible chance at love and commitment in marriage; reminding people of how our shared beliefs—including treating others as we want to be treated, freedom, and not judging others—are at the heart of people’s journeys toward support; and sharing stories that allow people to see and embrace their own journey toward supporting the freedom to marry.

An Ally’s Guide to Talking About Marriage for Same-Sex Couples, updated for 2014 by Freedom to Marry and MAP, provides a comprehensive overview of these and other approaches for expanding the kinds of authentic, effective marriage conversations that are helping to build lasting support across geographic boundaries, political parties, generations and faith traditions.

Recommended citation:
Movement Advancement Project and Freedom to Marry. April 2014. "An Ally's Guide to Talking About Marriage for Same-Sex Couples." MAP's Talking About LGBT Issues Series. (date of access).

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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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