By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The ACLU and an organization advocating marriage equality announced today they are starting a new grassroots campaign to build support for same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania.

The goal of the campaign, “Why Marriage Matters Pennsylvania,” is to educate the public on marriage equality.  The effort will include town hall meetings across the state, social media messaging that tells the story of gay couples, and training sessions that teach community groups how to make the case for same-sex marriage.

“A majority of Pennsylvanians do support the freedom to marry, but continuing those conversations will only diversity that support,” says Shawn Werner of Freedom to Marry (far right in photo).  “We need to show that the support is truly throughout the entire commonwealth.”

Werner says that once every Pennsylvanian sees why marriage is important for all couples, including same-sex couples,  the state can move closer to marriage equality.

“Marriage is something deeply personal to people throughout the commonwealth,” says Werner.   “Once neighbors talk to neighbors and know who their neighbors are, it’s through personal conversations people will reflect on their convictions.  And we see that it tends to change toward allowing all to marry.”

Helena Miller (second from right), Dara Raspberry (third from left),  and their daughter Zivah are plaintiffs in the ACLU federal lawsuit, Whitewood v. Wolf, that challeges Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage.   The couple plans to tell their story.

“This is all apart of the struggle to get our marriage recognized, to make sure that Ziva grows up in a family that is just as respected as other families,” says Raspberry.

Mayor Michael Nutter called on mayors across the commonwealth to lend support.

“No matter the size of your city, your town, or burrough, stand up for equality for your constituents and every Pennsylvanian,” he said.

As of today, more than 60 organizations and community leaders have endorsed the “Why Marriage Matters Pennsylvania” campaign.  For more information, go to

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