By Evan:

Momentum 2012: The Freedom to Marry

Tides: Momentum Magazine

Evan Wolfson writes for this quarterly publication’s “LGBT in America” issue about the most recent developments in the campaign to win marriage nationwide. With a half dozen court cases ruling that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, President Barack Obama saying he supports marriage for all couples, and four marriage-related ballot initiatives on the horizon, it’s been a big year for the freedom to marry. He writes: “We have the winning formula and we’ve got momentum… but victory will come only if we seize the moment.  For 2012, that means continuing to win more states, winning at the ballot, and winning more hearts and minds.  The President, the NAACP, the American Medical Association, mayors, business and labor leaders, clergy, and a majority of Americans are now marching with us on Freedom to Marry’s Roadmap to Victory.  It’s up to us now, to keep the pace and overcome the barriers, as we bring the country home.”

Evan Wolfson discusses President Obama’s support of same-sex marriage on ‘Face the Nation’

CBS News Face the Nation

Given the political implications of the recent vote on marriage in North Carolina, some have suggested the Democratic Party should move its convention this year to another state. Evan Wolfson, president and founder of Freedom to Marry, said the convention should stay there. “I think what we need in North Carolina and throughout the country is exactly what the president exemplified, which is talking about the conversations he’s had in his life with real gay people, real families,” he said. “These are the kinds of conversations that are changing hearts and minds. We’re going to see more of those conversations in North Carolina.”

A Presidential Endorsement

The Record

Evan Wolfson writes in a newspaper specifically for New Jersey residents about why he supports President Barack Obama and why his embrace of the freedom to marry signals big things for the movement and encouraging developments for President Obama and his supporters. Wolfson writes: “Obama made the case, and now it’s up to families in New Jersey, gay couples and their loved ones, non-gay people committed to fairness and a stronger state for all, and, in fact, all of us who believe in treating others as we would want to be treated, to finish the job here in the Garden State, overriding the veto and bringing the freedom to marry to New Jersey.”

Evan analyzes the impact of President Obama’s support of the freedom to marry

Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC

Evan Wolfson discusses the potential impact of President Barack Obama’s embrace of the freedom to marry and looks forward to what lies ahead for proponents of marriage between same-sex couples. Evan says: “Ted is exactly right: The constitution affords every American the freedom to marry, and that’s the same freedom gay people are invoking. But the president is right, that the way we get through is through a patchwork of struggles. Some states get there faster, other states fight it, they debate, and it takes the court to encourage it.

Obama Showed Moral Leadership with Gay Marriage Support

U.S. News & World Report

Evan Wolfson participates in U.S. News & World Report’s debate on whether it was a good idea for President Barack Obama to say that he supports the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. He argues: “President Obama has done what we elect presidents to do, showing moral leadership and speaking from the heart. History vindicates presidents who lead, much as it records America’s progress toward liberty and justice for all.”

Evan discusses Republican opposition to marriage on News Nation

News Nation with Tamron Hall

Evan Wolfson responds to Republican representatives’ motions to strengthen the so-called Defense of Marriage Act after President Obama announced his support for the freedom to marry. Wolfson also discusses GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s stance on marriage for same-sex couples and talks about why it matters that Obama has announced that he embraces the freedom to marry.

Obama Supports Same-Sex Marriage: Now What?

PBS News Hour

Evan Wolfson discusses the legal future of the freedom to marry in the wake of President Barack Obama’s announcement that he has completed his “evolution” on the question of whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

Evan Wolfson responds to claims that Obama’s announcement could hurt his support among Democrats

New York 1

Evan Wolfson appears on NY1 to explain that President Obama’s support for the freedom to marry is in line with the majority of Americans who support marriage for all couples. He even explains that the new stance from Obama may also bump turnout among left-leaning voters. “Even people who may not fully agree on the freedom to marry will respect the president for saying what he believes and being true to his convictions and then turning to the bigger, broader questions that most people are really going to make their decision for president on,” Wolfson said.

Evan Wolfson talks with Thomas Roberts about North Carolina’s marriage-banning amendment

MSNBC

Evan Wolfson responds to North Carolina’s approval of the discriminatory, anti-gay Amendment 1, which constitutionally bans same-sex couples from entering into marriages. Evan also looks at President Barack Obama’s reaction to the North Carolina passage and addresses Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks that he approves of marriage for same-sex couples.

The Anti-Gay Base is Shrinking

The New York Times

Evan Wolfson participates in a writers’ debate in the opinion pages of The New York Times over whether it is still controversial for politicians to support gay rights. He writes: “As they look past a dwindling anti-gay slice of their base, smart Republicans know they need to get in step with their own professed values – freedom, responsibility, small government – not to mention America’s majority for marriage. Meanwhile, Freedom to Marry’s call on the president and the Democratic Party to embrace a “freedom to marry” platform plank has won support from numerous party leaders, elected officials and tens of thousands of Democrats online. Candidates who support the freedom to marry have lots to gain, and little to lose, benefiting from enthusiasm, donations and votes. The wedge has lost its edge: 2012 is not 1996 or even 2004. Supporting the freedom to marry is not just the right thing, but, happily, the right thing politically.”

Without Nationwide Gay Marriage, U.S. Government Discriminates

U.S. News & World Report

Evan Wolfson participates in U.S. News & World Report’s “Debate Club” about whether the freedom to marry should be legal nationwide. He argues: “America should not be a house divided in which couples and those they deal with, including employers, are forced to play “now you’re married, now you’re not.” In the United States, we don’t have second-class citizens, and we shouldn’t have second-class marriages. It’s time to follow the Golden Rule—treating others as you want to be treated—and the Constitution, which commands equal justice for all, and end marriage discrimination nationwide.” His argument won first place in the user-decided debate.

Freedom to marry’s changed political equation

The Hill's Congress Blog

Evan Wolfson writes about how senators and representatives who supported the passage of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal recognition of legal marriages between same-sex couples, are changing their viewpoints and ushering in a new era of legislators who support marriage for all couples. He writes: “That change of heart on Capitol Hill is reflective of the journey the majority of Americans have made as minds have changed and hearts have opened. Fifteen years ago, only 27 percent of Americans approved of ending discrimination in marriage. Today, six national polls confirm that support has doubled to 53%, a national majority in favor of the freedom to marry. ... The freedom to marry reflects basic values of love, commitment, family, and fairness—and that’s what has inspired a majority of Americans and their elected representatives to decide to support it. And, happily, support for the freedom to marry is not only the right thing to do, it’s the politically smart thing to do.”

Testimony Before the Committee on the Judiciary United States Senate July 20, 2011

Evan Wolfson

Written Testimony of Evan Wolfson, Founder and President, Freedom to Marry before the Committee on the Judiciary United States Senate for the hearing on S. 598, The Respect for Marriage Act: Assessing the Impact of on American Families on July 20, 2011

What We Can Learn from Illinois

The Huffington Post

Evan Wolfson charts the progress that the passage of the Illinois Religious Freedom Protections and Civil Unions Act signals. Wolfson notes that just ten years ago, there were almost zero jurisdictions that provide some measure of respect to same-sex couples — today that number is close to 40 percent. While civil union is a welcome step, Wolfson states that it is no substitute for marriage because it does not adequately protect same-sex couples. He concludes by calling for the end of marriage exclusion now.

Time for Government to Show All Families Deserve Protection

The Huffington Post

Evan Wolfson writes on the importance of marriage to families — all families. Using analysis of U.S. Census data by the Williams Institute that the South is home to more same-sex couples than any other region in the United States, Wolfson notes that such couples are diverse economically, racially and geographically. Wolfson is concerned that discrimination at the state level, as well as federally through the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act,” has left these families vulnerable. Wolfson concludes that federal, state and local governments should not be putting obstacles in the paths of these families.

Video: Evan Wolfson Discusses MLK Legacy, Freedom to Marry

University of Michigan — 25th MLK Symposium

In Celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson was invited to the University of Michigan Law School to deliver a keynote address on the struggle for civil rights in the context of marriage for same-sex couples.

Wolfson discussed the impact of Dr. King’s legacy on his life and activism and told the audience the best way to honor Dr. King’s commitment, sacrifice and hard-won gains is to end the denial of the marriage from same-sex couples. He went on to say, “Is the freedom to marry inevitable? The answer is, that is up to us. This is our time. In the name of those who came before us, in the name of those we love, in the name of those to whom we seek to leave a better country and world, let’s make it so.”

Click here to read the entire speech.

Economist Debate: Single-sex marriage

The Economist

Evan Wolfson engaged in an Economist online debate with Maggie Gallagher of the “National Organization for Marriage” (NOM). The debate was whether marriage for same-sex couples should be legal. Throughout the debate, Wolfson made his case by detailing the families affected by marriage discrimination, pointing to prominent Americans who have made the journey from opposition to support for the freedom to marry, noting that literally every professional authority is in support of marriage for same-sex couples, citing polling that shows a majority of Americans now support the freedom to marry and deconstructing the opposition’s bait-and-switch arguments.

Freedom to Marry’s Top 10 Moments for Marriage in 2010

The Huffington Post

Evan Wolfson analyzes the Top 10 “Moments for Marriage” in 2010, including Illinois’ Civil Union law, victory in federal challenges to the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act,” and the No. 1 moment, two polls finding for the first time majority support for the freedom to marry.

Queer FM chats to Evan Wolfson (podcast)


David Hawk talks and interviews EVAN WOLFSON on Irish Radio.

DEBATE: Evan Wolfson and Maggie Gallagher on ‘Nightline’

goodasyou.org

Read commentary and watch video of debate between Evan Wolfson and Maggie Gallagher posted on Good As You.

The Message From Iowa

Advocate

Evan Wolfson asserts that the freedom to marry remains intact in Iowa and that every poll leading up to the November 2010 judicial retention vote, showed that Iowa voters have accepted the constitutional command of equality unanimously upheld by their state supreme court in 2009 and ranked overturning it at the bottom of a range of concerns on their minds. Wolfson also discusses the insidious tactics employed by anti-gay groups during the election cycle, which are “willing to lay waste to our courts and our most cherished American principles in order to get their way and punish same-sex couples.”

Open Letter - Maggie Gallagher: Face It, Discrimination Has Consequences

The Huffington Post

Evan Wolfson writes an open letter to Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage. Gallagher wrote a column in the New York Post trying to deny culpability in creating a climate that marginalizes LGBT Americans in the aftermath of a string of LGBT suicides in October 2010. Wolfson argues that through Gallagher’s words, actions and opposition to non-discrimination laws, she fosters an anti-gay climate that contributes to the sense of isolation felt by some LGBT youth.

Seizing the moment

The Record (NJ)

Evan Wolfson responds to the recent spate of suicides among LGBT youth as a result of anti-gay bullying and highlights the negative consequences that anti-gay prejudice and state-sponsored discrimination, such as the denial of marriage for same-sex couples, have for LGBT youth. Wolfson also challenges anti-gay leaders such as Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage to take responsibility for their role in fostering anti-gay attitudes in order to push their own political agenda.

DEBATE: Evan Wolfson and Maggie Gallagher

Yale Daily News

Summary of a debate at Yale University between Evan Wolfson and Maggie Gallagher, the former President of the National Organization for Marriage.


They were joined by about 250 students and guests in Sudler Hall for a YPU debate titled “Resolved: Same-Sex Couples Should be Allowed to Marry.”

National Organization for Marriage, What Are You Hiding?

The Huffington Post

Evan Wolfson writes, “NOM’s strategy to subvert campaign-finance disclosure and clean election laws is to unleash a wave of controversial lawsuits. Putting aside the irony of NOM turning to the courts to strike down laws that ensure a fair and clean election, given its pattern of complaining about so-called “activist” courts whenever judges strike down discrimination, NOM just doesn’t want to play by the rules.”

After Historic Prop 8 Ruling, What’s Next for the Freedom to Marry

The Huffington Post

Evan Wolfson discusses U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s authoritative and sweeping ruling striking down California’s infamous Proposition 8 and how to harness the momentum generated by Walker’s ruling to end marriage discrimination.

After the Summer FOR Marriage, What’s Next for Marriage Equality

NOM Exposed

Evan Wolfson’s op-ed on behalf of Freedom to Marry marks the launch of the NOMExposed.org, discussing the success of Freedom to Marry’s “Summer for Marriage” campaign. The campaign was a response to the so-called “National Organization for Marriage’s” summer tour. Wolfson analyzes the extreme statements that surfaced during NOM’s tour and shares why Freedom to Marry’s tour outdrew NOM’s by 3 to 1.

Evan Wolfson comments on two Polls showing support for Marriage Equality growing

edgewashington.com

EDGE spoke to Evan Wolfson about recent poll results, what they mean, what they portend, and what we (and our politicians) should all be doing about it.

VIDEO: 2020Vision: Winning the freedom to marry this decade

American Psychological Association

Evan Wolfson presented an invited address at the APA’s 2010 annual convention in San Diego, California. It is titled 2020Vision: Winning the freedom to marry this decade. This address took place on Saturday, August 14, with Gregory M. Herek, PhD making the introduction.

DEBATE: Evan Wolfson and Tony Perkins of Family Research Council on CNN’s Rick’s List

You Tube

Watch video of CNN Rick’s List debate between Evan Wolfson and Tony Perkins.

Freedom to Marry to NOM: This is What a Summer For Marriage Really Looks Like

The Huffington Post

Evan Wolfson discusses Freedom to Marry’s response to the “National Organization for Marriage’s” (NOM) anti-gay summer bus tour. Challenging NOM’s distortions and discriminatory agenda, Wolfson asserts, “They have no real arguments, and their numbers are dwindling. So let NOM bus around, trying to market drummed-up ‘testimonials’ and concoct media stunts to drape themselves in manipulative victimhood — all in their familiar effort to distract from the reality that when committed couples join in marriage, families are helped and no one is hurt.”

Wolfson: Lingle Veto in Hawaii “Profoundly Disingenuous”

The Advocate

Interview by Julie Bolcer of The Advocate asking Evan Wolfson about Governor Lingle’s veto of civil unions legislation in Hawaii.

AUDIO: Evan Wolfson discusses Loving v. Virginia on TalkBack! with Hugh Hamilton

WBAI

June 12th marks the 40th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the landmark Supreme Court decision that advanced racial equality and the freedom to marry in America. Evan Wolfson discusses this landmark case and the celebration to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Loving decision spearheaded by a coalition of organizations including Freedom to Marry.

In Love and War, Honoring the Commitment of Gay Americans

The Huffington Post

Evan Wolfson applauds the House of Representatives’ bipartisan vote to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and end military discrimination, but contends that equal respect and treatment under the law for lesbian and gay Americans can only come with the repeal of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act.” Woflson writes, “Military service, like marriage, has long been considered a defining element of citizenship and full participation in society. And military discrimination, like exclusion from marriage, is one of the cruelest and most unfair ways in which gay Americans endure inequality at the hands of their own government.”

DEBATE: Ivan Wolfson and David French of the Alliance Defense Fund

The Michael Medved Show

Listen to the debate from the Michael Medved radio show between Evan Wolfson and David French of the Alliance Defense Fund on Thursday, May 20th 2010 over the issues surrounding the freedom to marry.

Losing the Argument Over Marriage, Anti-Gay Forces Pound the Table

The Huffington Post

Evan Wolfson discusses California’s Prop 8 trial and the anti-gay attorneys’ paltry defense of the discriminatory measure during the court proceedings. Wolfson condemns Prop. 8 proponents resulting “pound the table” strategy, noting “It’s time to stop the table-pounding and allow Americans a conversation about the freedom to marry rooted in evidence, reason, and fairness. The diversion strategy of the anti-gay campaigners should not obscure the real truth of the matter: The reason smart lawyers like Charles Cooper don’t give a better answer to why marriage discrimination should be allowed to continue is that there isn’t one.”

DEBATE: Evan Wolfson and Rev. Lou Sheldon

Stanford University

Listen to the debate between Evan Wolfson and Traditional Values Coalition leader, Lou Sheldon, over ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage.

VIDEO: Public Policy Lecture Series: “Should State Legislatures Approve Same-sex Marriage

C-SPAN

From C-SPAN, Evan Wolfson debates parenting and marriage equality with David Blankenhorn of the Institute for American Values.  Evan draws on the leading experts (American Academy of Pediatrics, Family Law Quarterly) who say ending discrimination in marriage would help families and hurt no one. This debate was held on March 14, 2007 at Pace Law School. / Streaming video from Pace Law School /

Evan’s opening remarks on YouTube

Video: Bilerico Project speaks with Evan Wolfson

bilerico.com

Watch video of Evan Wolfson being interviewed by Bil Browning of The Bilerico Project about why marriage recognition is important and the backlash caused for states like Indiana when other states achieve marriage equality.

Rewind: Rick Jacobs and Evan Wolfson discuss Prop 8, marriage equality

365gay.com

Summary and transcript of a live interview with Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry and Rick Jacobs of the Courage Campaign about the Prop 8 trial and what’s next for gay marriage.  Over 200 online visitors dropped by to ask about the possible outcome of a Supreme Court case, or asked what will happen to those video tapes of the Prop 8 trial that were recorded.  Others told personal stories or outlined their involvement in gay activism.

Freedom to Marry’s Wolfson reflects on a year of Victories & Defeats

edgeboston.com

An EdgeBoston phone interview with Evan Wolfson on 2009’s victories and defeats. 

‘Stay Thirsty’ interviews Evan Wolfson, David Toussaint and Jeff McElhaney

staythirstymedia.com

Chris Beakey of Stay Thirsty interviews Evan Wolfson, David Toussaint and Jeff McElhaney in this interview titled “Gay in 2010: Three things that matter most.”

Breakfast with Evan

bobonaroll.blogspot.com

BobOnARoll talks to Evan Wolfson: “We had one of our every 3-4 month breakfasts last Thursday and had a good update on the Maine vote, what’s happening in NY, and the lawsuit working its way through the federal courts.

Audio: KLCC radio interview with Evan Wolfson

klcc.org

KLCC’s Jes Burns sits down with Evan Wolfson and Basic Rights Oregon’s Jeana Frazzini to talk about the current state of the marriage equality movement - and a new campaign launched this week in Oregon. 

DEBATE: Evan Wolfson and Tony Perkins debate Maine ballot initiative on ‘Anderson Cooper 360’

CNN: Anderson Cooper 360

Video: Anderson Cooper interviews Tony Perkins, president of the anti-gay Family Research Council, and Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, about the 2009 Maine ballot initiative that took away marriage equality.

A Frightening Proposition? (Part One)

KLCC Eugene Oregon NPR

KLCC’s Jes Burns sat down this afternoon with “Freedom to Marry” president Evan Wolfson and Basic Rights Oregon’s Jeana Frazzini to talk about the current state of the marriage equality movement - and a new campaign launched this week in Oregon.

AUDIO: A Frightening Proposition? (Part One)

KLCC Eugene Oregon NPR

KLCC’s Jes Burns sat down this afternoon with “Freedom to Marry” president Evan Wolfson and Basic Rights Oregon’s Jeana Frazzini to talk about the current state of the marriage equality movement - and a new campaign launched this week in Oregon.

NY Times Letter to the Editor by Evan Wolfson

New York Times

Evan Wolfson writes to the editor, “The pivotal exchange in one of the lawsuits now challenging the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage shows that the opponents of gay people’s freedom to marry still can’t give a real answer to the key question posed in yet another court by yet another judge: “What would be the harm of permitting gay men and lesbians to marry?”... The reason smart lawyers like Mr. Cooper don’t give a better answer to why marriage discrimination should be allowed to continue is that there isn’t one.”

Evan Wolfson’s Speech at the National Employment Law Association-New York

National Employment Law Association-New York

“The path ahead is clear: we need more of us, gay and non-gay, speaking with others in our circles and beyond about the shared values of family, fairness, and freedom – the values underlying this human rights movement, a movement in which NELA / NY has played a proud part.”

Respect for Marriage Act Introduced in Congress: Time to Dump “DOMA”

The Huffington Post

“Upon introduction in Congress of a bill to overturn the discriminatory so-called “Defense of Marriage Act,” Evan Wolfson writes, “the Respect for Marriage Act would fix a grievous wrong that plays out every day in concrete injuries.”

Video: NBC’s Barbara Raab Interviews Evan Wolfson

youtube.com

Watch Evan Wolfson in a thought-provoking conversation with NBC News senior newswriter Barbara Raab.

Freedom to Marry in the Supreme Court: How to Make the Timing Right

New York Times Room for Debate Blog

In response to the question, “Is this the right time to go to a conservative Supreme Court [with the freedom to marry]?” Evan Wolfson writes:“The best way to maximize the chances for a just ruling by the court is not just by hiring good lawyers, writing smart briefs, or, even, being right. What’s needed is creating the climate that enables justices to do the right thing.”

Call to Action in California – How to Win Marriage Back

Straight Talk on Marriage Blog

Evan Wolfson writes, “As someone 100% committed to winning the freedom to marry nationwide as soon as possible, I am very excited by Equality California’s report on the work already underway to restore the freedom to marry in California in 2012. To win marriage back, we have a lot to do, using every precious day between now and the election. EQCA’s roadmap to victory in 2012 offers everyone committed to winning marriage back a chance to pull together and tackle the tasks without wasting a moment.”

Advancing the Freedom to Marry in America

American Bar Association's Human Rights Magazine Summer 2009 Edition

As the nation celebrates the fortieth anniversary of Stonewall, leading advocates, Mary L. Bonauto and Evan Wolfson, examine how the freedom to marry movement began; what work and events have shaped its progress, especially in the last year; and action steps for future progress.

Evan Wolfson’s Comments on the 40th Anniversary of Stonewall at the CBST Pride Shabbat

Congregation Beth Simchat Torah

It’s always sweet to come home to CBST, especially when the prayer liturgy includes Jerry Herman!

Ordinarily when invited to share some thoughts on an occasion such as the 40th Anniversary of Stonewall, I’d be inclined to do a compare and contrast of where we were then and how far we’ve come since, with 40 years of retrospect and gratitude.

Or I might reflect on lessons and historical markers… for example, how these 40 momentous years divide almost equally into the 20 “pre-marriage” years from 1969-89 when gay people were primarily fighting to be left alone, not criminalized, not pathologized, not attacked – and then the next half, the nearly 20 years of struggle and progress framed by the freedom to marry work, beginning with the Hawaii and DC marriage cases launched in 1990-91.

Of course such a way of dividing the movement’s history into those two twenty-year periods would oversimplify.  In fact, gay people have been challenging exclusion from marriage pretty much right since Stonewall.  In fact, the first wave of marriage cases brought by couples in three states came as early as 1971. 

The big difference between the first wave and the second and third waves, of course, was that in the 1980’s, the AIDS epidemic shattered the silence about our lives forcing society to see us as partnered, grieving, and injured by discrimination, and prompting us to better understand our vulnerability and our power, and the imperative of fighting for the freedom to marry and the protections, security, and respect we deserve and need.

In the second 20 years, the years shaped by the crucible of HIV/AIDS and framed by the freedom to marry, our movement claimed the human right not just to be “left alone,” but to be “let in.”

Yes, ordinarily, an anniversary like this would inspire these kinds of historical reflections and a recap of 40 years of milestones… but the truth is that so much has happened in just the past few months – indeed so much has happened in just the past few weeks, past few days:

  * Delaware just become the most recent state to pass a gay rights law
  * Nevada’s legislature overrode the governor’s veto to pass an “all but marriage” law, despite the anti-gay constitutional amendment stampeded through under Bush/Rove
  * the federal government officially apologized to gay pioneer Frank Kameny, more than 50 years after he was fired and fought back
  * the U.S Conference of Mayors passed a resolution in support of our freedom to marry
  * changes of heart in favor of marriage equality came from diverse and surprising new supporters including:

              + Republican operative Roger Stone
              + Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi and U.S. Senator Chris Dodd – who each wrote op-eds saying they used to support civil unions and now realized, they were wrong
              + and, most strikingly here in New York, the man who singlehandedly blocked our marriage rights last year, former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno: “Life is short, and we should all be afforded the same opportunities and rights to enjoy it.  I support the freedom to marry.”

Yes, so much is happening around us right now that we can’t recap 40 years… we want to, we have to, look forward.

Still, let’s do one bit of remembering, stretching back, if we can, past the cascade of advances and chorus of new voices of the moment way back to… last November.

Way back on Nov. 4, we marked Election Day with an almost overwhelming mix of elation and pain.  We thrilled at the historic election of America’s first African-American president, the repudiation of the divisive and destructive politics of the past 8 years, and the promise of a country that would move toward the vision we hold.  And that same night, we grieved the blow of California’s Prop 8 and the fear it raised that our progress might be stymied.

I take this one look back tonight, because of how all that has played out.

It rapidly transpired that the wonderful federal election results, though still full of promise and meaning, were not self-executing.

With all that is good and hopeful, we’ve seen some serious stumbles by the Obama Administration – months of disappointing inaction followed by some very disturbing and intolerable actions in recent days.

And, fortunately, we’ve also seen a strong and powerful engagement from our movement to get our work with the White House and Congress back on track in support of the promises President Obama and the Democrats made – and the vision we shared and worked for, a vision I still believe they and we do still share and can realize.

This pressure, and this partnership, we must continue.

And, conversely, it turned out that the loss in California – unjust, harmful, costly, and frustrating as it continues to be – was not the end of the world.

The vote temporarily stripping away our freedom to marry in California proved to be a wake-up call to the too-many of us, gay and non-gay, who had been distracted, complacent, or inactive, a lesson that while winning is possible, so is losing, and justice does not just waft in on inevitability.

Far from halting our advance, however, the November loss rapidly gave way to our literally tripling the number of marriage states in a matter of weeks, as we went from 2 to 6, including Iowa in the heartland and 3 states pushing past civil union to full equality in marriage itself, and still others such as New Jersey and the District of Columbia within reach this year.

Of course our work is not done in Maine.  We all need to contribute to Maine Freedom to Marry to defend that victory against the right-wing effort to take it away by another cruel ballot-measure this coming November – and California taught us the importance of early money from people like us.  Go online and do it tonight, as a mitzvah.

And on this Pride Shabbat, the eve of the 7th day, that brings me to what will be the 7th marriage state, now within reach – if we do our reaching.

In one of my favorite quotes, one politician once said of a fellow senator that, “Like a rotten mackerel by moonlight, he shines and stinks.”

New York’s State Senate still has a chance to shine.  But if we want to win, we need to make it happen with persistent, repeated calls to key senators demanding that they bring the New York freedom to marry bill to a vote, and pass it.

So this Pride weekend, celebrate, march, speak out, and remember – and also donate to Maine, phone or call New York’s Senators through prideagenda.org.

And starting Monday and in the days and weeks ahead, make a personal commitment to talk with your friends and family and co-workers, and circles.  Talk about why marriage matters, and how how you personally care and ask them to take action.

No more Prop 8’s.

We don’t need to spend another 40 years at this.

The freedom to marry is within our reach, right here in New York, right now – and when we win it, we New Yorkers will, as we did at Stonewall 40 years ago, make our country a better place, and move and mend the world.

Winning the Freedom to Marry? Cue the Attack on the Gays!

The Huffington Post

“The millions of dollars that NOM and its backers threaten to spend fostering yet another cultural and political war against gay people and threatening civil rights protections would be better spent addressing the real problems facing all our families today. What’s truly scary is they don’t seem to be feeling that love.”

Vermont continues Iowa’s freedom to marry momentum

Google News Comments

Evan Wolfson writes, “By affirming that ‘marriage makes a word of difference’, Vermont sent a message to the California Supreme Court, now weighing whether to uphold Prop 8 and its temporary removal of the freedom to marry in favor of separate partnership for gay couples, and to the legislatures in New Hampshire and New Jersey, each considering bills to end exclusion from marriage in place of the separate-and-unequal civil unions to which same-sex couples are now relegated.”

Iowa Shows Freedom to Marry’s Time Has Come and Place is Everywhere

Google News Comments

Evan Wolfson writes, “Elected officials and judges should follow the Iowa court’s unanimous lead—equal protection means equal, and all should share that equality in the precious freedom to marry. And all of us can help them do their job by doing ours—speaking out now to the people in our lives who need to hear from us, explaining why marriage matters and helping them push past their discomfort and rising to fairness.”

Will the California Supreme Court Strike Down Prop 8, or “Willy-Nilly Disregard” Its Duty?

The Huffington Post

In a message to the California Supreme Court, now weighing a set of challenges to Prop 8, Evan Wolfson cautions the Court against a ruling that would not only go against “the bedrock principle of American constitutional government,” but would also minimize its historic 2008 decision in Marriage Cases, which set forth such truths as “the fundamental nature of the freedom to marry [and], the way in which exclusion from marriage itself denies equality and imposes the stigma of second-class citizenship.”

States are talking about marriage equality. Are you?

Google News Comments

Evan Wolfson writes, “With legislatures, courts, and even the electorate weighing the need to end the exclusion of gay couples from marriage, there is greater opportunity, and greater urgency, for each one of us to promote conversations about why marriage equality matters. The more people talk to others, the more they come to see there is no good reason to deny couples who’ve made a personal commitment in life, the equal commitment under law that is marriage.”

Can Marriage Equality Be Compromised?

Advocate

Evan Wolfson writes, “The core of the real opposition we face is not really about marriage—it’s about gay. The same forces against our freedom to marry are also against its products, which include civil union and partnership. We will never give enough ground to appease them, nor should we… Why surrender the moral high ground we are successfully claiming—with principle, persuasion, patience, and persistence—for an illusory common ground when, as witness the most recent and vociferous rejection of even civil unions and any such half-measure by the so-called moderate new chair of the Republican Party, Michael Steele, this is a nonstarter.”

Marriage and Gays: What Would Lincoln Do?

The Huffington Post

“As Lincoln’s words and actions skillfully paved the way for America’s ‘new birth of freedom,’ he returned again and again to the Declaration of Independence’s promise that ‘all should have an equal chance.’ Lincoln didn’t expect that promise to waft in by itself, or solely on the work of others. He led.”

PODCAST: Evan Wolfson on Gay People’s Right to Marry

michellehaimoff's Podcast

Evan Wolfson speaks with Michelle Haimoff about the problem with the term “gay marriage,” the legal battles ahead for gay Americans, and the most effective thing the gay community can do to achieve equality.

Bishop Robinson’s moral witness lights the way for Obama’s presidency and policies

Google News Comments

Evan Wolfson writes, “When he stands before Abraham Lincoln’s statue to mark a new presidency, Bishop Robinson will provide President-elect Obama, and the nation and world, a lesson in values to light the way forward. Prayer must then be matched by policy.”

Section on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues Luncheon

The Association of American Law Schools

Section Luncheon: Speaker Evan Wolfson, Freedom to Marry
12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m

Pro-Marriage Legislators Win Elections (pdf)

Freedom To Marry

Contrary to some political expectations, this report proves voting to support the freedom to marry and opposing anti-marriage measures helps rather than hurts politicians.

The More, The Better

Google News Comment

In his 1963 book, Why We Can’t Wait, Martin Luther King reminded us that, “It is an axiom of social change that no revolution can take place without a methodology suited to the circumstances of the period.” He wrote, “Direct action [such as peaceful protests and grassroots mobilization] is not a substitute for work in the courts and the halls of government… Indeed, direct action and legal action complement one another; when skillfully employed, each becomes more effective.”

Leaders of established organizations who resist welcoming new energy, new creativity, new involvement make a mistake. We need more people speaking to more people; as I’ve written in my book, Why Marriage Matters, and elsewhere, it is conversations—person to person, group to group—over time that creates the needed climate for true social and legal change for justice.

Likewise, people now stepping up to, or stepping up their, involvement make a mistake if they don’t work to connect their engagement to the tasks that will result in the legal change sought. We need more people to break the silence and make the case, not just with the most hard-core opponents but with friendly people and even our own as well as the reachable-but-not-yet-reached. And we need to connect those conversations and the change in hearts and minds they bring to the actual ways in which law changes. When all is said and done, for instance, there are only two ways to undo Proposition 8 and restore the freedom to marry in California: creating a climate that enables the California Supreme Court to do the right thing and strike it down, or continuing to build public support in order to prevail on a new ballot measure, perhaps in 2010 or 2012. Meanwhile, non-gay and gay people can have these important conversations about who gay people are and why marriage matters in all 50 states, and win the freedom to marry in several other states that are now poised to end discrimination.

Those truly committed to change, whether through “new” methodologies or “old,” will shed complacency or negativity and do their parts—and find ways to work together to bring that change sooner. All of Dr. King’s “methodologies of social change” remain as needed and relevant today; what we need is not just “new,” it’s more.

Letter to the Editor: Do Not Deny a Minority the Right to Marry

The New York Times

Evan Wolfson writes, “Imagine what our country would look like today had the opponents of equality been able to cement into the Constitution the prejudices of the majority and the passions of the moment. Our president-elect—the son of a couple who would have been barred from marriage because of ‘tradition,’ religious opposition and the majority’s discomfort—might have had a very different life.”

Letters to President-elect Obama: Evan Wolfson

The Advocate

For the for the December 16 issue of Advocate, Evan Wolfson writes, “Discrimination based on sexual orientation, particularly government denial of fundamental rights such as the freedom to marry, is not a gay problem. It is an American problem. And the cause of equal rights for all must always hold a preeminent claim on any president.”

AUDIO: A Frightening Proposition? (Part One)

95bFM: Auckland, NZ

Evan Wolfson, Founder and President of Freedom To Marry, guests on The Monday Wire with Joe Nunweek’s independent news and interview program. He talks to Joe about the path to Proposition 8’s passage, and how it will be fought.

AUDIO: A Frightening Proposition? (Part Two)

95bFM: Auckland, NZ

http://www.freedomtomarry.org/mp3/evanwolfson2_95bfm.mp3

Next Steps in California and the Country to End Discrimination in Marriage

Freedom To Marry

Peaceful protest is an important and time-honored way of raising understanding and mobilizing people to action. Bayard Rustin, who organized the 1963 March on Washington, brought the method of non-violent witness and demonstration to Dr. King, giving Americans a chapter in history that inspires us all.  Bayard Rustin was African American—and gay.

In pushing Prop 8 to take away a fundamental right from a targeted group, opponents of equality deliberately chose not to follow the rules for changing the constitution in such a grave and profound way. As Gov. Schwarzenegger said, joined by the African American and Latino leaders in the state legislature, the court should strike it down as an abuse of the political process.  Beyond “just” gay people, beyond “just” marriage, allowing a fundamental right to be taken away and any group of people to be targeted so easily threatens all of us, and violates our system of government.  If rights can be eliminated, constitutional guarantees stripped away, and individuals targeted so easily, why have courts and constitutions in the first place?

Freedom to Marry invites everyone speaking up now to focus on the actual paths for the needed legal change to undo the great wrong of Prop 8.  There are only two—through the court or, if necessary, by ballot-measure.  All of us committed to restoring the freedom to marry in California should move swiftly (and together) to taking the great work, energy, volunteers, allies, and inroads of the past few days and weeks, not allowing them to dissipate, and add them to the non-gay and gay people now awakened to the need for involvement. We must engage together, now, to do two things simultaneously: (1) shape a climate that empowers the court to do the right thing, striking Prop 8 down, while meanwhile (2) building the majority that, if called upon, will vote to change the law through a ballot-measure. The No on 8 campaign is over; the new affirmative campaign to move California and our country has begun.  Restoring the freedom to marry and equality under the law will depend on how quickly we do the work of having the conversations, mobilizing young people and others to speak to their families and circles in every diverse community, and ratcheting up the public support (already near a majority).

Yesterday, Connecticut joined Massachusetts in marrying commited couples with equality under the law.  Let’s work to bring inclusion and the freedom to marry to other states and show the reachable-but-not-yet-reached fair-minded majority of Americans, including Californians, that families are helped and no one hurt when we treat everyone equally and embrace justice and love.

No One Said It Would Be Easy

Google News Comment

What Senator Dianne Feinstein rightly called the “terrible mistake” that a narrow majority made in California this week, and the harm it caused families and America’s values of equality for all, broke my heart, but not my spirit. Still, as much as I feel pain over California and the other temporary defeats in other states, I am buoyed by the great news from around the country. This includes not just the historic and inspiring election of Barack Obama, but enhanced opportunities to press forward for marriage in other states in 2009 while we work to restore the freedom to marry in California, sooner than some think.

From the millions who voted right in California and the thousands of gay and non-gay people who worked together to defeat Prop 8 to the majorities already with us among crucial populations (for example, young people of every race), I see the progress we have made and the foundation for the work needed ahead, provided we don’t allow what we’ve built to dissipate. Indeed just next week we will witness the progress we’ve already made: Same-Sex couples in Connecticut will begin applying for marriage licenses on November 12th. The country will again get a chance to see families helped and no one hurt.

It’s a winding path to equality, as this morning’s New York Times editorial wonderfully laid out. We join in the nation’s celebration of the power of hope and take heed in President-elect Obama’s message from his victory speech that change doesn’t come overnight, and we have to work for it. All of us, gay and non-gay, who support equality and fairness across our country must redouble our efforts and get involved. Learn what’s going on in your state. Engage those around you by talking about why equality and the freedom to marry are important to you. If we could accomplish all that we have done during the eight years of President Bush, imagine what we can do in the new era that now dawns. 

AUDIO: Evan Wolfson on The Michelangelo Signorile Show

The Michelangelo Signorile Show

Evan Wolfson joined Michelangelo Signorile on November 6, 2008 to discuss Prop 8 in California, why it’s important to engage our friends and family, and where we go from here.

Evan Wolfson on the Biden-Palin Debate and the Freedom to Marry

Towleroad

Evan Wolfson writes, “[T]o end on a positive, it is good news that yet again we see that the discussion around marriage equality is moving politicians, sincerely or otherwise, to greater acknowledgment of gay families and the wrongness of discrimination against them.”

PODCAST: Securing the Freedom to Marry: What Next?

Philadelphia Bar Association

Evan discussed how our current landscape mirrors Perez v. Sharp, when the California Supreme Court, in a 4-to-3 decision, becomes the first court in U.S. history to strike down race restrictions on marriage. He went on to explain the significance of holding on to marriage equality in California, and how marriage has been the context of many human rights fights through the history of our country.

PRINT: Evan Wolfson, I have five questions for you

Shankblog

Q. What is one thing you think every American should know?
A. How fragile values we treasure as Americans are — personal freedom, the separation of church and state that assures religious as well as personal freedom, constitutional checks and balances. These things can be lost, and it is reckless to play with fire near them, as some in our country do.

Should So-Called ‘DOMA’ be repealed?

Congressional Quarterly

[or if the question is “Should So-Called ‘DOMA’ be repealed?”:
“Yes.  Legally Married Couples, Whether Gay or Non-Gay, Should Not Be Denied Equal Federal Rights.”]

Congress should repeal the federal anti-marriage law, the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (“DOMA”).  Couples who are legally married by a state such as Massachusetts or California should not be treated as legal strangers or denied rights by the federal government.

DOMA says that no matter what the need or purpose for any given program, the government will categorically deny all federal protections and responsibilities to married couples it doesn’t like, i.e., those who are gay.  This is an intrusive departure from more than 200 years in which couples properly married under state law then qualified for the more than 1138 federal incidents of marriage such as Social Security, tax treatment as a family unit, family unification under immigration law, and access to a spouse’s health coverage.  Through DOMA, Congress for the first time ever gave itself the power to say who is married, a power that under the Constitution belongs to the states.

Even worse, by denying rights such as family leave, child support, and survivor benefits to one set of married couples, DOMA penalizes not only the couples themselves, but their children.  If the government wants to promote strong families it should treat all married couples, and their children, equally – the same rules, the same responsibilities, and the same respect under the law.  Government has no business putting obstacles in the path of people seeking to take care of their loved ones.

There are far better reasons to treat marriages with respect than there are for destabilizing them – for all couples, gay and non-gay alike.  And there are many constitutional and legal reasons why DOMA should be repealed:  It denies one group of families an important and meaningful safety-net thereby harming them and their loved ones.  It violates the right of equal protection.  It upends the traditional ways in which our country has treated married couples.  It’s a power-grab by the federal government at the expense of the states.

But the most important reason Congress should move swiftly to reverse DOMA’s radical wrong-turn is that while the anti-marriage law serves no legitimate purpose, prevents no actual harm, and leaves no one any better off, it harms some people severely. 

When DOMA was stampeded into law back in 1996, no gay couples were married anywhere in the world; Congress was voting on a hypothetical.  But today real-life married couples are cruelly affected by DOMA’s double-standard, and Americans better understand the unfairness of depriving these families of the federal rights and responsibilities that will help them protect their loved ones.  Even former Republican Congressman Bob Barr, the original sponsor, has acknowledged DOMA to be abusive and now calls for its repeal.

Marriage is not “defined” or “defended” by who is denied it.  In the United States, we don’t have second-class citizens, and we shouldn’t have second-class marriages.  Couples who have made a personal commitment in life deserve an equal commitment under the law, and those whom a state has lawfully joined in marriage should not see their marriages selectively set asunder by federal law.

Evan Wolfson Discusses the Landscape for Marriage in 2008

Freedom To Marry

On June 24, 2008 Evan Wolfson was the guest speaker at the New York office of Dickstein Shapiro LLP. He discussed the landscape for marriage in 2008, and explained why the California Supreme Court’s carefully-worded decision affirming the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples is one of the most important milestones in gay civil rights history.

Macy’s Joins the Parade for Marriage Equality

The Huffington Post

Evan Wolfson highlights the Macy’s ad in honor of the freedom to marry in California, the significance of a poll showing majority support for equality and against a discriminatory amendment in California, and a video of Bill O’Reilly’s skepticism about the opposition to marriage equality.

A Week Later in California, What’s Next?

The Huffington Post

Evan Wolfson discusses how the CA Supreme Court not only did the right thing, it did its job—upholding the Constitution, and now equality must be defended.

The Court Got It Right

USA Today

Evan Wolfson writes, “Last week, the highest court in our nation’s biggest state got it right: Excluding loving committed couples from marriage harms them and their families and helps no one. Exclusion also violates the constitution’s command of equality for all. American values of fairness and inclusion really do matter and apply to gay and non-gay people alike.”

Taxing Our Patience

Freedom To Marry

In my work for the freedom to marry, I get asked often for a specific and universally understandable example of the inequality created by exclusion from marriage.  Here’s a good and timely example—taxes.  Same-sex couples and their families across the country are paying more in taxes and getting less because of their exclusion from marriage. 

In tough economic times, we all want to save money and protect our families, but, of course, everyone also looks to the government to provide a safety-net and address dislocations and crises (especially when the government helped cause them).  “Taxes,” said Franklin Roosevelt, “are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society.”  We all have an obligation to contribute, and, equally, the just expectation that our government and the tax system will treat us and our loved ones fairly.

Denied the freedom to marry, gay Americans are not just deprived of precious security and respect for their loving commitments.  They are also unfairly taxed.

Take a couple who’ve been together for, say, 8 years, and who’ve just added a child to their happy family.  They do the work of marriage in their lives every day, taking care of each other, cooking, doing laundry, changing diapers, and managing life’s ups and downs.  But when Judy adds Rosa to her health insurance at work, because they are denied the freedom to marry Rosa has to pay taxes on that coverage.  One of the main protections that come to families through marriage is the ability to transfer money from one to the other, the ability to pool resources and function as a team without adverse tax treatment.  Judy and Rosa and their kids are denied that benefit of marriage – and it costs them.

  * Same-sex couples pay at least $1,000 more a year in taxes just for health insurance coverage, that’s $178 million each year collectively for these couples across the country.  That doesn’t even include the added cost to the employers.  There’s a whole study from UCLA’s Williams Institute on just this injustice.

What about your neighbor down the street?  After nearly 40 committed years together, Jorge’s partner just died.  They shared a home, a life, children, and grandchildren.  The house was in his partner’s name, and now amid his grief he also must pay debilitating inheritance taxes and property assessments that he would have been spared had he and Kevin been allowed to marry.  Grieving the loss of the love of his life, Jorge is now about to lose his home, too. 

A family in Connecticut shared this story: Gina and Jane have been together for over 10 years and adopted two children.  They have a civil union (the best they could do, since Connecticut still won’t let them just get married).  They file taxes jointly at the state level, but then have to compile three filings for the federal level, two separately and one joint just to act as a worksheet for figuring out state taxes.  Each year they try and figure out which of them should claim their children at the federal level since they can’t file jointly.  Why is government putting obstacles in the path of families like this, seeking to take care of each other?

Just last week, the Hartford Courant ran a story on how even many tax preparers don’t have the software to allow couples to file with a civil union.  The result was a cost 4 times more to file their taxes:

  The giant tax preparer was willing to prepare the couple’s taxes at one of its offices for $199.80 — $155 more than the online price…H&R Block has managed to rewrite its software to handle gay marriages in Massachusetts, but not so with civil unions in Connecticut or Vermont [.]

That the tax preparer software was able to understand marriages in Massachusetts and not civil unions in Connecticut underscores the reality that while civil unions and domestic partnerships do offer some protections to couples and their families, they are vastly unequal. As the Hartford Courant opined following the report of this inequality:

  Meanwhile, the tax hassle common to all such households reinforces the shortcomings of civil unions and debunks claims that they are an acceptable equivalent to marriage.

For tangible as well as intangible reasons, civil unions don’t work, and are no just substitute for the freedom to marry itself.

Responsible citizens simply trying to take care of their families and pay their taxes should not be discriminated based on whom they love.  We can ask candidates for office what they are going to do about this and the other pressures on America’s working families, and if the candidates seem stumped on how to treat people fairly, just hand them this: Candidates’ Guide on How to Support Marriage Equality and Get Elected (pdf) (http://freedomtomarry.org/pdfs/candidates_guide.pdf).

Will Rogers once remarked that, “The difference between death and taxes is death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.”  The truth is we’re not going to get our country back on track until we work together to strengthen all families and thus build stronger communities for us all.  That means speaking out.

You can make a difference by sending this post to 5 friends, opening a conversation on why you care about marriage equality, not only as a matter of fairness, but as a matter of economic justice.

Today is Freedom to Marry Day - Just Don’t Say “Gay Marriage”!

The Huffington Post

As Americans across the country celebrate Freedom to Marry Day today, seizing the opportunity to have conversations with family members, friends, and coworkers about the importance of ending same-sex couples’ exclusion from marriage, hopefully they’ll talk a lot about gay couples and why marriage matters – without saying “gay marriage” and “same-sex marriage.”

VIDEO: Lizz goes one one one with Evan Wolfson

Shoot the Messenger

Evan Wolfson breaks it down for the good folks at Shoot The Messenger. Shoot The Messenger is a satirical wrap-up of the week’s news from the brain of Daily Show Co-creator Lizz Winstead. A live sketch-comedy show incorporating multi-media elements, it gives us the world as seen through the filters of the fictional producers and on-air talent at Wake-up World - America’s first and only 6 hour Morning Show which is coincidentaly on 24/7 America’s first and only infonewsment network.

Al Gore Endorses the Freedom to Marry

The Huffington Post

Evan Wolfson praises Nobel Laureate Al Gore for adding his voice in support of ending same-sex couples’ exclusion from marriage.  Wolfson quotes Gore, who said, “I think that gay men and women ought to have the same rights as heterosexual men and women, to make contracts, to have hospital visiting rights, to join together in marriage, and I don’t understand why it is considered by some people to be a threat to heterosexual marriage to allow it by gays and lesbians.”  Wolfson concludes, “Gore is again pointing the way — and ending exclusion from marriage is one climate change the world will be better for.”

Building on 2007

Freedom To Marry

In 2007, state legislatures considered a record number of marriage bills, while courts continued to hear cases brought by couples challenging their unfair exclusion from marriage.  Bills to create civil union or partnership as interim steps advanced in diverse states – products of the work to win marriage itself.  By year’s end, couples stood before the high courts of three states seeking marriage, legislatures in two states enacted measures just short of marriage, the California legislature and one chamber in New York voted for the freedom to marry, and public opinion continued to move in the direction of embracing marriage equality (as have the policy positions of many leading presidential candidates, who have called for undoing the federal anti-marriage law passed just a decade before).

In 2007, the people with the best first-hand, lived experience of marriage equality decided overwhelmingly to keep it, in a dramatic 3/4’s majority vote by the Massachusetts legislature.  The marriage conversation, and even state Supreme Court stumbles, moved the Washington legislature to enact a “first steps” partnership bill, and spurred governors and legislative leaders to pledge support for the freedom to marry in states such as New Jersey and Maryland.  Likewise, introduction of marriage bills vastly upped the ante and helped civil union progress in New Hampshire, Illinois, and other states, while underscoring that marriage itself remains the frame and the goal, as well as the engine of advance.

After fifteen years or so of the marriage debate, it remains true that the states that make the most gains for same-sex couples (and, incidentally, for unmarried different-sex couples) are those where advocates fight hardest for, and talk most about, the freedom to marry.  What’s more, in 2007 the talk of marriage continued to propel advances on other fronts of importance, including passage of state and local non-discrimination measures, enactment of parenting and gender identity protections, and successes for openly gay and pro-gay elected officials.

“Do all you can, no matter what, to get people to think on your reform, and then, if the reform is good, it will come about in due season,” feminist pioneer Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote.

Stanton knew the importance of perseverance – and sure enough, 2007 fell just short of yielding the crucial second marriage state that will further advance people’s growing acceptance of the need to end exclusion.  But one lesson of Massachusetts is that when we give people the chance to see marriage equality for real, not just as a scary hypothetical, many embrace it as good while others remember that they don’t care that much and can live with it.

2007 demonstrated anew the power of “doing all you can, no matter what” to encourage even the reluctant to push past their discomfort; because his co-workers, friends, and family determined not to write him off, a Republican mayor and former police chief reversed himself on whether civil unions are “good enough” and added San Diego to the hundreds who now stand alongside same-sex couples before the California Supreme Court, urging it to strike down marriage discrimination in 2008.

Freedom to Marry was founded on belief in Dr. King’s call to integrate all the “methodologies of social change”: electoral, legislative, litigation, education, and enlistment of as many as possible, gay and non-gay, creating the space for decision-makers to rise and act.  The imperatives of ending injustice, the opportunities to engage, and the urgency of the clocks ticking on cases and battles underway don’t stop on the electoral calendar.  As Bill Clinton puts it, “We give other people permission to define us if we don’t even enter the conversation.”

In 1948, another election year, the California Supreme Court became the first court in the country to strike down race restrictions on who could marry whom.  It is civil rights poetry, and an urgent call to action, that in the 60th anniversary year of that pivotal decision – deeply unpopular at the time but vindicated by history – the same court now will rule on same-sex couples’ claims to share in the freedom to marry.

In 2008, it is due season for the redeeming of our country, for justice for all families, and for that all-important second state.  The work of winning begins with the conversations each one of us has with those around us, as we become the change we seek.

Let California Ring: Talking About Change Makes It

The Huffington Post

Evan Wolfson writes about Let California Ring, the new campaign to encourage a million conversations throughout the state (and hopefully millions across the country) about why everyone should care about ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. Wolfson points to the recent example of San Diego Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders’ change of heart and mind in favor of marriage equality as proof that conversations work. There is momentum — and urgency — now as the California Supreme Court, the first court to strike down race-discrimination in marriage nearly 60 years ago, will soon hear a challenge to ongoing marriage discrimination.

AUDIO: Marriage For All with Evan Wolfson and Freedom to Marry Part 2

A Closer Look

On part two of Evan Wolfson’s conversation on A Closer Look with Minister Gerald Palmer, callers continue to express religious opposition to gay people and marriage equality. Minister Palmer reminds the listeners that religious teaching benefits, and is not harmed, by honest discussion about tough issues. Wolfson explains that many religious leaders are voices of equality for the freedom to marry.

AUDIO: Marriage For All with Evan Wolfson and Freedom to Marry Part 1

A Closer Look

Evan Wolfson explains on A Closer Look with Minister Gerald Palmer that civil marriage is a legal institution, and the government has a legal obligation not to exclude or discriminate against one group of Americans. Listeners called in to express confusion about the difference between religious ceremonies and legal marriage licenses. Wolfson reminds listeners that it’s very important as Americans that people respect other people’s religions, and nobody is trying to force religions to do anything they don’t want to do. Conversely, our government should not impose any one religious view on the rest of us, and religion should never be used as an excuse to deny American citizens equal rights.Fair-minded people do not want the government discriminating against other citizens, or imposing one religion’s rules on everyone else.

PRINT: Evan Wolfson on the modern marriage movement

Men's News Daily

David Shankbone sits down with Evan Wolfson to discuss some of the recent decisions affecting the freedom to marry, gender in marriage, and reactions in the gay community to his fight for their rights. When asked “Why marriage?”, Wolfson responds, “Marriage is a vocabulary, it’s a vehicle, an engine for a larger discussion that moves people’s understanding of who gay people are, why sex discrimination is wrong, why exclusion is wrong in America, that brings up discussion the separation of church and state, that brings up discussion of whether there should be limitations or roles based on sex, or whether men and women should be treated equally. Whether two women should be considered whole when they form a committed and loving relationship, as opposed to saying they are unwhole and unequal because they don’t have a man in their life.”

A Tearful Republican Mayor Comes Out — For the Freedom to Marry

The Huffington Post

Complete with video, Evan Wolfson highlights an emotional press conference by San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, a Republican former police chief, at which he announced his intention to sign a resolution supporting the freedom to marry, a reversal from his prior public opposition. Mayor Sanders said his change of heart and mind was due to soul-searching and personal conversations with gay people he knows, including his lesbian daughter, showing how powerful it is to make the conversation about real people, not just legalisms or hypotheticals. He also described how he has come to understand that his prior support for civil union, rather than marriage, was inadequate and wrong. San Diego now joins the other major California cities in calling on the Governor and State Supreme Court to follow the legislature’s lead in embracing marriage equality.

Marriage Equality: A Cause and Conversation That Won’t (and Shouldn’t) Stop

The Huffington Post

Evan Wolfson notes the recent events of an Iowa court decision striking down discrimination in marriage, the California legislature passing a marriage equality bill, and a Republican presidential candidate getting booed in New Hampshire for being anti-marriage, all proof that the conversation about the freedom to marry is unavoidable and present at the epicenters of presidential politics. Wolfson presents important points from the Iowa decision which exemplify why marriage matters and offers advice to presidential candidates with the Candidates’ Guide on How to Support Marriage Equality and Get Elected.

Why the Dems should NOT shut up about gays and marriage

The New Republic

Evan Wolfson responds to August 16, 2007’s piece in The New Republic, explaining that, “As public support for marriage equality continues to evolve, Democrats, thus already perceived as the party of ‘gay marriage,’ have a winning issue on their hands, one that evokes the best traditions of their party—fairness and inclusion. The conversation will not stop. Candidates who want to move on to other questions ought to get the freedom to marry question right—for their sake as well as the country’s.”

PRINT: Marriage Equality and the Presidential Election

Huffington Post

David Mixner interviews Evan Wolfson on how to answer questions regarding why candidates should stand for, and be pressed on, the freedom to marry. Says Wolfson, “This election will not be decided on gays or marriage (and nor was the election of 2004). But how candidates deal with important questions such as equality, protections for all, standing up to discrimination, and the values of marriage (love, commitment, fairness, freedom) can be symptomatic of how they address dispositive questions and win over or alienate voters… They all have a chance to get this right—and we all have the chance now to help them.”

This Week’s Gay Debate: A prime-time opportunity for straight talk on marriage

The Huffington Post

As we all prepare for tonight’s historic Democratic Presidential Debate, sponsored by our partners at HRC & LOGO, check out the key points Evan Wolfson laid out in the Featured Post on the Huffington Post blog. It discusses how candidates should answer the marriage questions at the forum, and beyond. The piece contains links to several resources to help the candidates do better — not just because it’s in our interest that they get it right, but because it’s in theirs, too.

Candidates’ Guide on How to Support Marriage Equality and Get Elected (pdf)

Freedom To Marry

Americans are hungry for, and respect, candidates who speak up for what they believe and value. When addressing marriage equality for same-sex couples, candidates should be authentic and direct about their values and the policies of fairness that flow from them.

AUDIO: Evan Wolfson Discusses How Marriage is Important to the Civil Rights Struggle for gay people

John Selig Outspoken

Evan Wolfson joined John Selig on OutSpoken Tuesday, July 31, 2007. He discussed what drives him in the fight for marriage equality, how it felt to be named one of Time’s 100 most influential people, why the word “marriage matters,” and how exclusion from the freedom to marry unfairly punishes committed same-sex couples and their families by depriving them of critical assistance, security, and obligations in virtually every area of life from the birth of children to death. (1hr 2min)

If You Want to Be a Leader, You Can’t Be Afraid to Lead

The Huffington Post

Evan Wolfson critiques the Democratic Presidential candidates’ “affirming,” but still “incomplete and unconvincing” responses about the freedom to marry during the CNN/YouTube debate this week, offering the advice: “Ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage is the clear and correct answer to the question of how to achieve equality. What’s more: it is achievable. Candidates who say they want equality (and the votes of those who believe in equality) should be prepared to live up to their values and lead the way.”

Pro-Marriage Incumbents and Candidates Win Elections

Freedom To Marry

Taking a Stand to End the Exclusion of Same-Sex Couples from Marriage Does Not Hurt Incumbents or Candidates in Their Elections

Freedom to Marry
July 26, 2007

For many years now, legislators across the country have taken votes on measures aimed at ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, on measures that move in the direction of marriage equality, and on measures aimed at discriminating against same-sex couples and their kids, denying them the freedom to marry and other legal protections.

As the number of pro-marriage incumbents and candidates continues to expand, they are winning their elections at overwhelming rates. Their success stands in blunt contrast to the commonly held belief that supporting marriage equality ends political campaigns and careers. Instead, exhibiting the leadership to stand on the side of fairness and equality actually brings candidates and voters closer together both on the campaign trail and at the polls.
If I Vote to Support the Freedom to Marry, Will I Be Re-Elected?

  * Legislators Who Voted to Support the Freedom to Marry Have a 100% Re-Election Rate. By the 2006 election, two states had seen legislative votes to support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples: several votes in the Massachusetts legislature on a proposed constitutional amendment which would repeal the freedom to marry in Massachusetts, and the California legislature’s passage of a bill to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. In Massachusetts, every legislator who voted to protect marriage equality and ran for re-election prevailed (195 for 195). In California the same was true, every incumbent who supported marriage equality and ran for re-election won.

If I Change My Vote to Supporting the Freedom to Marry, Will I Be Re-Elected?

  * Legislators Who Evolved Their Position from Opposing to Supporting the Freedom to Marry Have a 100% Re-Election Rate. Legislators in Massachusetts who evolved their position on the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, from opposing equality with the anti-marriage amendment to supporting fairness and voting against the amendment, were all re-elected.

If I Vote Against an Anti-Marriage Constitutional Amendment, Will I Be Re-Elected?

  * In 2004, 94% of Legislators Who Voted Against Discrimination Were Re-Elected. According to a report from the Human Rights Campaign and the Equality Federation, prior to the 2004 election, 640 legislators across the country who voted against an anti-marriage constitutional amendment in their state in 2004 faced re-election. 604 won their elections (94%), and only 1.7 percent (11) of the 640 legislators arguably lost their race because of their vote against discrimination. [Standing Up for Equality, January 2005]

If I Support The Freedom to Marry In An Open-Seat Election, Will I Win?

  * In Open-Seat Races, Pro-Marriage Candidates Prevailed Against Anti-Marriage Candidates a Vast Majority of the Time, and this Stance Was Not a Factor in Losses. In open-seat races since 2004 where pro-marriage candidates squared off against anti-marriage candidates, pro-marriage candidates won 71-percent of the races. In Massachusetts, since the Goodridge decision, 25 out of 32 (78%) open-seat races where these face-offs took place were won by pro-marriage candidates. In California, such races were won by pro-marriage candidates 65-percent of the time (30 out of 46). For the pro-marriage candidates who lost, their pro-marriage stance did not play a factor in their campaigns.