They’ve been together for almost two decades, have a daughter of their own, but in the eyes of law, they’re just two men living together.
Jarrod Scarbrough lives in Tampa with his partner and 8-year-old daughter, and as the Supreme Court decides what to do with the Defense of Marriage Act at the end of the month, he’s standing up for his family.
Scarbrough is leading supporters of marriage equality to the U.S. Court House in downtown Tampa on March 26, where speakers will talk about equality and their own experiences with discrimination. Then, as the sun sets, people will take out glow sticks to create an aura of hope for everyone to see.
“To secure our family through a civil contract of marriage is something that’s near and dear to us,” he said.
And Scarbrough is not alone — more than 100 communities across the country in almost every state, including Florida, are joining forces through the Light the Way to Justice movement. As the Supreme Court holds its hearings on the mandate, as well as taking a second look at California’s Proposition 8, both the religious and secular will be standing together in the hope for equality.
The vigils were inspired by rallies organized by Join the Impact after the proposition passed in 2008.
“In much the same way that Join the Impact offered a way for folks across the country to connect with a big ‘movement moment,’ Light the Way to Justice is attempting to offer a way for anyone — from California to Connecticut and from Mississippi to Montana — to participate in these historic Supreme Court hearings,” said Heather Cronk, co-director of GETEQUAL.com, one of the groups behind Light the Way to Justice.
At press time, vigils were planned in West Palm Beach and Miami but with no details on when or where. The nearest rallies with definite plans are in Tampa, Jacksonville and Pensacola.
No one knows what the justices will decide, and even more, no one knows how far reaching their decision could be. Not only could the outcome determine marriage equality for LGBT couples, but also sinks deeper into other issues like immigration for binational couples.
Scarbrough and his partner met while living in New Mexico. Their daughter was born via surrogate more than 10 years later, and the little family moved to Tampa about a year ago. Neither state recognizes same-sex unions.
“We are hoping that the justices realize that the only reason for federal marriage inequality is discrimination based on personal bias — there is no legal rationale at all,” Cronk said. “We are hoping for broad rulings in both the DOMA and Prop 8 cases that immediately grant loving same-sex couples across the country to marry in the community where they live, rather than having to travel or move to a new state.”
While vigils and rallies of all sizes are planning across the country, the main event is in Washington, D.C. – the heart of the hearings. On March 26 and 27, supporters of marriage equality will be gathering at the steps of the Supreme Court for speakers, prayers, a seder, rallies and more.
“We have something historic going on in that we have over 100 cities planning to do some sort of action on this day. It’s just something that you don’t see over Supreme Court actions,” Scarbrough said.
“If any branch of the government or lawmakers can tell a couple what they can do with their lives or to their families, it does impact everybody.”Christiana Lilly