Board Member Spotlight: Sam Thoron

Behind every strong organization is a strong Board of Directors - and Freedom to Marry has a dedicated and diverse group of individuals working each day to secure the freedom to marry nationwide. This year, we want to help you get to know each board member little bit better. This week, we hear from Sam Thoron, who served as a member of the San Francisco chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) for many years. He's been actively involved on the PFLAG National Board since 1992, and he is now honored as President Emeritus of the national PFLAG. He and his wife Julia have raised three children together, and they are the proud grandparents of five. 

1) Where are you from, and what brought you to San Francisco?

I grew up in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. I went to high school in Connecticut and college in Cambridge, MA, where I met my wife of 50 years, Julia. We took a look at a number of cities and decided that San Francisco was the most attractive. It was and is a vibrant, diverse city. It is has water all around it and country and mountains close by. Of course, the fact that Julia grew up in Marin County, just across the Golden Gate Bridge and that my sister and her family lived in the city might have had something to do with the choice.

2) You've been a very active ally in the LGBT community. Why do you think it is important for allies to speak out for the freedom to marry?

Every one needs to speak out - not just allies. Some of the research that our own Thalia Zepatos has brought to us clearly tells us that members of the GLBT community have not been speaking up as they must. They haven't told their families and friends how much the freedom to marry means in their lives. If we are going to grow allies we have to tell our stories. The impact of the case for the general public is discounted because it is being made by those with an ax to grind.

The parent voice can be particularly powerful because much of our intended audience is made up of families. Parents understand threats to their children and share in our hopes for the happiness and fulfillment in the lives of our children. This voice, too, can be discounted. "Of course you love your children." We parents, too, are seen to have an axe to grind. The voices of the allies are very important for two reasons. First, there are more of them - many more potential voices than the community and the parents and families. The second is that allies are not seen to have an axe to grind.

3) What do you like to do in your free time?

What free time? I like to be out in the natural world, enjoying the beauty of nature and of the landscape. I enjoy being on and around the water, boating in one form or another.

4) What has been your favorite "freedom to marry" moment - a time in the movement that has particularly resonated with you?

The combined results of last November's election were the most moving and thrilling.

5) Why does the freedom to marry matter to you?

I am deeply committed to the principle that my lesbian daughter deserves to be treated, in all her affairs, with the same respect and dignity that seems to flow so naturally to her two non-gay brothers. She deserves exactly the same rights, privileges and obligations of full citizenship in her country. That must include the rights, privileges and obligations of civil marriage to the love of her life. If she deserves these things, so does everyone else. As Evan Wolfson has been telling us for so long, we will not see full equality until we have the freedom to marry everywhere.

Read Other Board Member Spotlights:

And Read Freedom to Marry Staff Spotlights: