Last month, Kenzie Seal of the National Marriage Boycott guest posted on Unite the Fight, asking you to vote at IdeaBlob.com for them to win a $10,000 grant for their efforts to bring marriage equality nationwide. And thanks to your participation, they won, setting them up to be one of the largest student-run marriage equality organizations in the nation. Following is their press release.
A student-driven movement to urge Congress and President Obama to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act has won ideablob's $10,000 prize for the month of August. Hoping to organize and empower the millions of Americans who support same-sex marriage, the group will use the money to open chapters in all fifty states in the coming year.
SPRING HOUSE, Penn., (September 15, 2009) Advanta Corp. announced today that Kenzie Seal, Stanford University undergraduate and CFO of the National Marriage Boycott, has been named August 2009's ideablob.com monthly contest winner for the best small business idea, as voted on by the ideablob community. The announcement that the group had won $10,000, came within twenty-four hours of Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introducing the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
The National Marriage Boycott is a student-driven movement to urge Congress and President Obama to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. Members sign a pledge to boycott marriage until DOMA is repealed and wear an Equality Ring to symbolize their commitment. The organization is quickly growing, increasing from a single campus to twenty campuses in over ten states in the past year.
The organization supports itself financially through the sale of $10 stainless steel 'Equality Rings,' that members wear on their ring finger as a symbol of their commitment not to get married until the Defense of Marriage Act is repealed. People who are already married take off their wedding ring and replace it with the Equality Ring in solidarity.
The group's co-director, Laura Wadden, explains their business model, “We wanted to create a movement that enabled straight people to show their support for LGBT rights, and we wanted this movement to have the capacity to rapidly expand in a financially sustainable way. The rings allow us to finance our expansion, while creating a recognizable symbol for our cause.” By funding its advocacy through ring sales rather than donations, the group brings a social entrepreneurship model to LGBT advocacy.
Greg Goldgof, the group's other co-director explains a second motivation behind the rings, “We hope the spread of Equality Rings across the country will show closeted youths that they have supportive allies and decrease the rate of LGBT teen suicide. According to the Trevor Project [an LGBTQ youth suicide prevention organization], LGBT and questioning youth are four times more likely to commit suicide than the national average. Perhaps together we can decrease that number by bringing greater visibility to the millions of people who support LGBT rights.”
According to Seal, the money from the contest will go towards “the cost of incorporation, outreaching to more schools, producing promotional materials, and maintaining a presence at progressive and LGBTQ events around the country.” Sarah Masimore, the organization's Chief Operating Officer further explains, “The money will enable us to accelerate our growth. Today we are in ten states. In a year we plan to be in every state, demonstrating that Americans care about equal rights regardless of where you live or whom you love.”