December 19, 2011
By Jacob Combs
Erwin de Leon has an article in today’s Huffington Post about the Legal Stranger Project, an outreach program created by Amanda Lucidon, a straight multimedia journalist based in Washington, D.C., that chronicles the discrimination faced by gay and lesbian couples because of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Two years ago, on the first day that marriage equality was legal in D.C., Lucidon found herself at the district’s Superior Court waiting to photograph couples leaving with their brand new marriage licenses. She was invited by the Reverend Bonnie Berger to attend a mass wedding the following week. It was at this wedding that Lucidon realized the depth of the injustices LGBT couples face. As de Leon writes:
“I met Amy Sokal and Alex Khalaf, a couple whose lives I’d end up documenting,” Lucidon said. “At first I thought I would follow Amy and Alex’s journey through the first year as newlyweds after D.C. legalized marriage for same-sex couples. But as I began to look deeper into the issue, I discovered that there are actually 1,138 federal rights, benefits, and entitlements associated with marriage.”
She reflected on how she and her husband, along with other married straight couples, are automatically entitled to such benefits. She began asking friends, “Did you know you’re entitled to 1,138 rights when you get married?”
The Legal Stranger Project’s website is clear about its purpose. The first slide that shows up when you visit is a young lesbian couple lying casually on the floor. The caption next to photo reads: “Alex is banned from adopting her own child because she’s a lesbian. Lawyers say she is considered a ‘legal stranger’ to her wife and child.” Visitors can share their own stories, read news about the repeal of DOMA, and donate to the project on its website.