New collection ‘We Do’ celebrates the history of the marriage movement

As Freedom to Marry celebrates historic wins from the past year, we’re also taking the time to reevaluate the success of the marriage movement and appreciate the milestones that it took to get to this watershed moment. Freedom to Marry is proud to be a sponsor of the NYC launch of We Do: American Leaders Who Believe in Marriage Equality, a new book by award-winning author Jennifer Baumgardner and former Vermont governor Madeleine Kunin.

The book is a collection of speeches, interviews, and commentary that highlight the story of America’s growing acceptance of the freedom to marry. It includes excerpts from pioneers like Harvey Milk to current game-changers like Senator Tammy Baldwin, and countless key leaders in between, including Senator John Kerry, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator-Elect Cory Booker, President Bill Clinton, and more.

It also features a 2004 speech from Freedom to Marry’s founder and president Evan Wolfson entitled “Marriage Equality and Some Lessons for the Scary Work of Winning.” At the time, only Massachusetts had passed the freedom to marry, and while court cases were lingering in other states, backlash from opponents was widespread. Wolfson discusses the crucial need to keep working, in the context of the same Roadmap to Victory that guides the marriage movement today. He said:

Even the most challenged states, the states with the greater uphill climb, the states where we are most outgunned and under attack - even those of us in the so-called ‘red states’ still have a pivotal part in this national movement and can make a vital contribution. In every state - even those where we cannot win the present battle, but fight so as to lose forward - we have the opportunity to enlist more support, build more coalitions, and make it possible for more candidates and non-gay opinion leaders to move toward fairness. All this contributes to the creation of the national climate of receptivity in which some states may cross the finish line before others, but everyone can be better positioned to catch the wave that will come back to every state in this national campaign.

He goes on to explain that the country is currently divided into people who already strongly support marriage and on our side; people who are strongly unsupportive and whose minds won’t change; and, most important, people who are in the middle. He notes that these are the minds that we must work to change. The speech continues:

What moves that middle? To appeal to the better angels of their nature, we owe it to these friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens to help them understand the question of marriage equality through two truths: Truth 1: Ending marriage discrimination is, first and foremost, about couples in love who have made a personal commitment to each other, who are doing the hard work of marriage in their lives, caring for one another and their kids, if any. … Truth 2: The exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage is discrimination; it is wrong, it is unfair to deny these couples and families marriage and its important tangible and intangible protections and responsibilities.

You're Invited to the Book Launch Party!

Freedom to Marry will serve as a sponsor at the book’s launch party in New York City on Monday, October 28 in New York City, where Wolfson will speak on a panel alongside Baumgardner, Kunin, and Betsy Reed of The Nation.

WHAT: Launch party for We Do! American Leaders Who Believe in Marriage Equality

WHEN: Monday, October 28 • 7pm-9pm

WHERE: Judson Memorial Church (55 Washington Sq. South) in New York, NY

Baumgardner is executive director and publisher at the Feminist Press at the City University of New York, as well as an author and filmmaker of two documentaries. As governor of Vermont, Kunin was one of the first leaders on gay rights, when Vermont became the first state to offer civil union to same-sex couples and, later, marriage without a court order. The anthology is published by Akashic Books and can be purchased here.