CNN’s Margaret Hoover introduces Evan Wolfson at ‘Cheers to 10 Years’ event

This week, at Freedom to Marry's Cheers to 10 Years event celebrating the tenth anniversary of the first marriages between same-sex couples in the United States - and Freedom to Marry's own 10th anniversary of being founded by Evan Wolfson, CNN political contributor Margaret Hoover joined marriage supporters to talk about why marriage matters. Hoover is a best-selling author and one of the leading members of Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry.

On Monday, she spoke out about why marriage matters, and why particuarly as a conservative, she supports the freedom to marry for all couples. Then, she introduced Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson, explaining his history and talking about how much work is left to do. 

Watch and read her remarks:

It's an honor to be here with all of you, as well. I should make a joke here about how attractive a crowd you are. Rather, about how much more attractive you are than your white octogenarian heterosexual conservative counterparts to whom I usually speak.

You know, I was at my support group yesterday: Young Heterosexual Republican Women Who Believe That Individual Freedoms – including the freedom to marry – Are Important Conservative Values, Anonymous.

No, it’s true. It’s a great group. We meet every Sunday. At my house. There’s, you know, plenty of room. It’s not a very large group. (Reminds me of the College Republicans Club I helped found at my left-wing liberal arts college, Bryn Mawr, where I was one of five members.) BUT the great news is it’s getting bigger every day!

So I was saying to the group, how excited I was to be invited to speak to you this evening about the extraordinary work of Freedom to Marry, and specifically, my friend Evan Wolfson. It’s not often you get asked to introduce – and brag about – someone for whom there truly are not enough accolades. “Godfather of gay marriage”; “Choreographer of gay marriage”, “Shaman, Magi, Wizard of gay marriage”, yes, absolutely. All true.

But for me it’s a little less Gandalf and lot more Abe Lincoln;

The freedom to marry the person you love is about basic, fundamental fairness.

And it makes sense to me as a conservative – I’m not social conservative – but the brand of conservative that emphasizes individual liberty and economic freedom and equal opportunity. I believe people make better decisions for themselves, than a government can make for them. I believe the strength of any vibrant society is best measured in the strength of the commitments individuals make to one another, most especially the commitment codified by marriage. To an economic conservative marriage provides it’s own social safety net – and in times of individual hardship, families swoop in to offer, love, support, and stability, which is a far superior than the support which government can provide. 

"For those of you who haven’t been in Evan’s office, he has a saying, framed on the wall. It’s Mahatma Gandhi and it says: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." - Margaret Hoover

I believe in equal opportunity, as a married person this means that everyone should have the equal chance to commit him or herself in life - for life - to the person they love, and for our families, our communities and our country to understand the specialness of that commitment -- as connoted by the word ‘marriage’ – is the most fundamental voluntary relationship our culture recognizes.

More than thirty years ago Evan began making these arguments. He wrote his thesis at Harvard Law School in 1983 - on why gay people should be able to marry. That was so bold that he had difficulty finding an adviser. But what was even more bold and unique is that he took that vision, turned it into a strategy, and has driven the vision and strategy every day for the last 30 years - and willed it to a reality.

Twenty years ago, he was co-counsel in the first-ever trial on the freedom to marry in Hawaii, and he won. That win began convincing a nation - and the world - that the vision wasn’t just a dream but could actually happen. Evan then wrote the definitive book on the cause, Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People’s Right to Marry.

In 2003, before there were any states with marriage equality, Evan founded Freedom to Marry.And since then, Freedom to Marry has driven a strategy to win marriage nationwide. Having worked very closely with Evan, Marc Solomon, and the rest of the Freedom to Marry team, I can tell you that it is an extraordinarily strategic, smart, and relentless organization that, above all, knows how to win. We are where we are today—17 states, 59 percent public support, the gutting of DOMA, with cases racing towards the Supreme Court—in large part because of the relentless dedication and smart work of Freedom to Marry.

My friend Andrew Sullivan has called Evan “the indispensable man in bringing marriage equality to America.” Time Magazine even deemed Evan one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.” And both of these descriptions are right. And here’s why:

For those of you who haven’t been in Evan’s office, he has a saying, framed on the wall. It’s Mahatma Gandhi and it says: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

 Well, Evan, no one’s laughing at you now. All that’s left is the fight. And I know, that with the support of all these super attractive people, you and Freedom to Marry will lead us to the win.

Read all about the Cheers to 10 Years Event.