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Marriage equality beams up to Michigan, New Jersey

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It was a consequential week for gay rights, with Michigan and New Jersey moving toward allowing gay marriage through the judicial system. Victory in those states would increase the number of states allowing gay marriage to 16, along with the District of Colombia.

 

Click on photo to enlarge or download: Click on photo to enlarge or download: George Takei says, "these are not two cities" in a speech about LGBT equality at the National Press Club in Washington. Takei played Commander Sulu on Star Trek. SHFWire photo by Gavin Stern.Click on photo to enlarge or download: Click on photo to enlarge or download: George Takei says, "these are not two cities" in a speech about LGBT equality at the National Press Club in Washington. Takei played Commander Sulu on Star Trek. SHFWire photo by Gavin Stern.WASHINGTON - It was a consequential week for gay rights, with Michigan and New Jersey moving toward allowing gay marriage through the judicial system. Victory in those states would increase the number of states allowing gay marriage to 16, along with the District of Colombia.

“Nationally, there’s this idea that we’re moving forward, like what happened in Michigan and New Jersey. But I don’t want to say it’s inevitable,” said Brant Miller, 27, a program associate for The DC Center for the LGBT Community

George Takei, an openly gay actor best known for his role as Commander Sulu (later Captain) in Star Trek, spoke at the National Press Club Friday to advocate for marriage equality. 

 “I grew up as a child imprisoned in barbed wire,” Takei said, referring not to his sexual orientation but to his internment as a Japanese-American during World War II. He called the laws that prevent gay people from marrying “legalistic barbed wires with hard, sharp barbs of prejudice and ignorance.” 

In Michigan, U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman decided this week to allow a challenge to the Michigan Marriage Amendment, a voter referendum that passed in 2004. The Feb. 25 trial will determine if outlawing gay marriage serves a legitimate state interest. 

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, the state Supreme Court voted Friday to allow gay marriages to proceed while Gov. Chris Christie appeals a lower court decision. The Garden State previously permitted civil unions, which the Republican governor supported. The New Jersey court also cited a lack of state interest in preventing the marriages from going forward. 

Click on photo to enlarge or download: George Takei paralleled his childhood in a internment camp with that of LGBT equality. He broke into several jokes when tension was high. SHFWire photo by Gavin Stern.Click on photo to enlarge or download: George Takei paralleled his childhood in a internment camp with that of LGBT equality. He broke into several jokes when tension was high. SHFWire photo by Gavin Stern.Miller warned, though, that while marriage equality is a major issue in the LGBT community today, it’s far from the only one. 

“While marriage equality is something that many LGBT people want, there other issues that LGBT people face and address, like homelessness, transgendered people and the complex issues that LGBT people of color face. All of those things are important,” Miller said. 

Takei, for his part, said he is hopeful for the future of gay rights because of young people. 

“Especially young, straight couples, because they're going to be making the gay babies of tomorrow,” Takei said, to laughter from the lunch audience.

“And it is for them that we have to be change agents today.”

Reach reporter Gavin Stern at gavin.stern@shns.com or 202-408-2735. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.

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