TORONTO / NEW YORK (May 29, 2012) - Tourism Toronto announced today a NEW YORK CITY CONTEST, marrying one lucky LGBTQ couple during Toronto’s 2012 Pride Festival.

Toronto’s Pride Festival is among the largest in the world, attracting visitors from all over the globe. This year’s festival starts on June 22 and concludes with the marquee event, the Toronto Pride Parade, on July 1. 

The winning couple will receive an exclusive wedding gift from Tourism Toronto, including two round trip Executive Class airline tickets from New York City to Toronto, wedding attire, hotel accommodations, ground transfers, marriage ceremony during the Pride Parade, and more, valued at more than $10,000.

“Toronto is the first jurisdiction in North America to conduct same sex marriages and continues to be one of the hottest destinations for gay couples,” said David Whitaker, President & CEO of Tourism Toronto. “We are proud of the decade long legacy of gay marriage in Toronto.”

CONTEST REQUIREMENTS:
The New York City Contest will include a cake installation where LGBTQ couples can enter for their chance to win by having their photo taken posing with the cake.  Photos with the cake can be taken anytime from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, June 1st through Sunday, June 3rd, at 166 8th Avenue (8th Ave. & W. 18th St), New York, NY, 10011 near Room Service restaurant. The couples’ photos will then be posted on Tourism Toronto’s Facebook page, where participants can tag themselves and share their entry. 

Tourism Toronto will select the winning couple based on charisma, enthusiasm, and a statement explaining why they’d like to get married during Toronto’s Pride Festival.

Pride Toronto is one of Canada’s premier arts and cultural festivals. The festival attracts more than one million people, many of whom march through the heart of Toronto, making it one of the largest Pride celebrations and street festivals in the world.  Toronto will host World Pride in the summer of 2014 simultaneously with Toronto Pride Week.

More information about the  location, rules & regulations is available at www.OurGayTorontoWedding.com.

About Tourism Toronto
Tourism Toronto, is an industry association of more than 1,200 members established to sell and market the greater Toronto region as a remarkable destination for tourists, convention delegates and business travellers around the globe. Tourism Toronto operates in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Culture as Regional Tourism Organization 5, representing the cities of Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton. www.SeeTorontoNow.com

 
 
CHICAGO – Seeking recognition for their shared love and commitment and protection for their families and loved ones, nine couples filed a lawsuit today to challenge the constitutionality of an Illinois law that denies gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry.

Illinois' current law excludes these couples from the recognition and protections that come with the universally recognized relationship status of marriage, and limits them instead to civil union status. Six states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex couples to marry.  

Today’s lawsuit comes one year after Illinois implemented civil unions for same-sex couples and just two weeks after President Barack Obama from Illinois endorsed the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. The couples are represented by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Illinois. In a separate case filed today, Lambda Legal is representing 16 same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry. The coordinated cases signal the organizations' shared commitment to ensure that the government treats all families fairly.  

The lead plaintiffs in the ACLU case are Tanya Lazaro and Elizabeth “Liz” Matos of Chicago’s Northwest Side. Lazaro is a Chicago Police Department detective and Matos works as a system analyst for a trading firm in Chicago. Tanya and Liz have a two-year-old girl Jaiden and, just recently, had a second girl Sophia. The parents of two girls, they rejected getting a civil union.  

“Our relationship is not about some legal benefits and protections, but about love for one another,” said Lazaro.  “We love each other; we are committed to one another. Anything short of marriage does not recognize that love and commitment.”

“It is remarkable that Tanya risks her life each day to go out into the City of Chicago and keep people safe, but the law does not recognize fully the family that we have built together,” said Matos.  

A number of the plaintiffs sought a civil union after they became available in 2011 although some chose to wait for marriage. In the complaint, these couples describe how it feels to be relegated to a legal status that sends the message that the state regards their relationships as inferior. Couples also report multiple ways in which they are reminded that many people do not understand civil unions, nor do they afford civil unions the same respect as marriage. 

The other plaintiffs in the case include:
• Lynn Sprout and Katherine “Kathie” Spegal, of Champaign, have grandchildren ages to 22-years-old to 6-years-old, with another on the way;
• Ross “Randy” Walden and Robert “Bob” Carey, from Springfield, have been together for seven years, meeting after Randy lost his previous partner to cancer and was denied access to his partner’s hospital room and almost missed the chance to be with him at his death;
• Michelle Mascaro and Corynne Romine, of suburban Oak Park, who have been together more than 20 years and adopted three children;
• Tim Kee and Rick Wade, a couple from downstate Marion, who have spent their entire lives in the Marion area and been together as a committed couple for more than 15 years, live in the home passed on to Rick by his grandmother and attend the church where Tim was baptized;
• Carlos Briones and Richard Rykhus, of Evanston, are the fathers of seven-year-old Ty and share a passion for education, with Richard serving on the board of education for the local elementary school board;
• Suzanna “Suzie” Hutton and Danielle Cook, of Bloomington, are both educators who, when they told their colleagues about their civil unions, had to make a joke about their relationship being “civilized” to address their colleagues’ discomfort with an announcement that highlighted the inadequacy of their civil union;
• Kirsten and Tanya Lyonsford of Aurora met at work 13 years ago when they played a game of “Diversity Bingo” and found that they both identified as gay/lesbian. They are parenting two young children; and
• Edwin “Ed” Hamilton and Gary Magruder, of Plainfield, who have been together as a couple for more than 48 years and are both retired educators. 

“What defines a marriage is love and commitment, our hopes and dreams for a life with the person we most love in all the world,” said John Knight, director of the ACLU of Illinois’ LGBT Project.  “Creating civil unions – a separate, novel and poorly understood status for gay and lesbian couples – does not honor the devotion of our families, nor fully protect them, but instead sends a powerful message that our families are inadequate and undeserving. It is time for Illinois to join the growing list of states that provide same-sex couples with the dignity and respect that can only come through marriage.” 

The ACLU and the ACLU of Illinois are assisted in the lawsuit by the Chicago office of Mayer Brown.

A copy of the complaint filed today is available here:
www.aclu-il.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/COMPLAINT-FINAL-with-electronic-sig.pdf

 
 
New Polling Data Shows Romney Continues to Stand against Views of Mainstream Americans
 
Washington – Mitt Romney reiterated his opposition marriage equality for same-sex couples again this morning while delivering commencement remarks at Liberty University, an anti-gay school that bans openly LGBT students from attending. Romney made his remarks just days after President Obama announced his historic support for marriage equality.  A USA Today/Gallup poll released yesterday shows that a majority of Americans – and en even stronger majority of independent voters – approve of the President’s position on marriage equality.

HRC President Joe Solmonese released the following statement after Romney’s remarks:
“This morning, Mitt Romney spoke out against marriage equality at a school that does not even allow openly LGBT students to enroll. It is unbelievable that in this day in age – when a majority of Americans support marriage equality and a majority of Americans explicitly approve of President Obama’s leadership on marriage equality – Mitt Romney instead is taking up the mantle of far-right anti-gay organizations who seek to demonize LGBT families. Mitt Romney continues to insist he’s against discrimination, but his remarks on marriage equality and the company he keeps paints a very clear and a very disturbing picture of the anti-LGBT forces that are driving Romney’s campaign.”

Among those honored at Liberty’s commencement this morning was S. Truett Cathy, founder of the fast-food chain Chick-fil- A, which has made significant financial contributions to anti-LGBT organizations. Romney made his remarks hours after Rick Santorum called on the GOP nominee to use marriage equality as a “potent weapon” in his campaign.