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Equalize It

Marriage equality is on the brink for many Americans—but it's not a sure thing yet

by Molly Eadie on March 28, 2013


Jenni Rivera-Landers, Michelle Rivera-Landers, and their daughter, Dakota. Photo by Molly Eadie.

Jenni Rivera-Landers, Michelle Rivera-Landers, and their daughter, Dakota attended a vigil on March 26, outside of the James T. Foley courthouse to show support for national marriage equality. The couple were married at the First Unitarian Society of Schenectady on August 18, 2012, just over a year after they saw same-sex marriage legalized in New York State.

On March 27, the Supreme Court heard the case to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, and their decision will come in June. A decision to overturn the DOMA could make their marriage legally recognized at a federal level.

“It’s far beyond time now,” said Jenni. “I don’t know what they’re going to do, but if they follow the people in momentum, I think it will be overturned.”

While New York State recognizes the couple as married, the two need to file federal taxes separately and can’t receive each others social security benefits.

On Tuesday, the Human Rights Campaign logo, a red equal sign, went viral on Facebook as users displayed it as their profile pictures.

“I am completely overwhelmed with emotion when I look at Facebook painted red,” said Jenni. “People I grew up with that I had no idea would care are standing up.”

The vigil was organized by Eyad Alkurabi, an activist and student at University at Albany. The event was part of  United for Marriage: Light the Way to Justice Coalition, and 170 similar vigils were held in cities across the country. With the help of a Facebook event, he was able to recruit fellow supporters and activists.

“You go and support your children playing soccer, we’re doing the same thing right now,” said Tonja Alvis, of Albany. “We all want to live happily and interact happily. This isn’t about one person is better than the other or one person is right or wrong, it’s just the way of change.”

Photo by Molly Eadie.

Eyad Alkurabi lead a group of marriage equality supporters and activists in a chant. 


Photo by Molly Eadie.

Newly engaged couple Kevin Moshier and Jonathan Hammer showed support for marriage equality in front of the James T. Foley Courthouse shortly after picking out their engagement rings.  The couple is planning a wedding for October 2014, and are hopeful that their friends in other states will soon be able to legally marry too.


Photo by Molly Eadie.

A group of marriage equality supporters and activists in front of the James T. Foley Courthouse.