Winning Marriage: Advocates Talk about Changing Public Opinion

Jun 16, 2015

A decision on whether or not same-sex marriage should be legal in all 50 states under federal law is expected from the U.S. Supreme Court soon. In order to get this issue before the nation’s highest courts, advocates have been working for decades to create a change in public opinion.

Marc Soloman, National Campaign Director for Freedom to Marry and author of the new book Winning Marriage says that the movement for gay rights really started to gain momentum in 1994.

“The real spark for the organizing started about 20 years ago in Hawaii, when we had our first victory in state court. Judges ruled that you had to look very carefully at denying same sex couples the right to marry. Once they ruled that way, it began this real effort across the country. Gay and lesbian people were inspired by the idea that they could get married,” he says.

If we are fortunate enough to win the freedom to marry, we could be in this odd and in some ways very vulnerable situation. A majority of states around the country still don't prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation directly. - Camilla Taylor

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Solomon, who has been working with advocates who have been organizing campaigns for marriage equality in all 50 states. We also hear from Camilla Taylor, a legal strategist for Lambda Legal who argued the Varnum v. Brien case that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa, and Jay Kaplan, who works as a staff attorney at the ACLU in Michigan on the LGBT project.  

Taylor and Kaplan both agree that even if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriages are protected under the U.S. Constitution, their work is far from done. In Michigan, like many other states, individuals can still be fired and discriminated against based on sexual orientation.  

“If we are fortunate enough to win the freedom to marry, we could be in this odd and in some ways very vulnerable situation. A majority of states around the country still don’t prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation directly, so people will be able to marry everywhere. They will be coming out in doing so, yet they could come to work the next day and be fired for getting married to someone they love because their state laws still lack any explicit protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” Taylor explains.