With the announcement late last week by Attorney General Holder, gay marriage equality took another major step forward in the U.S. A recent book on the subject highlights to path politicians have taken from Harvey Milk of San Francisco in 1977 until now, to advance the cause of marriage equality. In the words of co-author Jennifer Baumgardner, "this is a deeply radical book."
Baumgardner was speaking at the Miami Book Fair International late last year, which included a session on gay rights. Holder said the Justice Department will issue a memo on Feb. 10, 2014 that recognises same-sex marriages "to the greatest extent possible under the law." The federal expansion will encompass 34 states where same-sex marriage is not yet legal.
How we got this point is the focus of the book We Do!, co-authored by Baumgardner and Madeleine Kunin, the Governor of Vermont from 1985 to 1991. She is currently a professor at the Univ. of Vermont. Baumgardner is the publisher and executive director of the Feminist Press.
The book contains the transcripts of speeches given by political figures ranging from the British contrarian Andrew Sullivan, editor of the magazine New Republic, to Hillary Clinton, former First Lady and quite likely next President on the United States. Even the text of the Congressional debates on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996 are included. It was the infamous DOMA that was overturned by the Supreme Court last year, a move that has opened the floodgates to marriage equality from Hawaii to New York.
Baumgardner said that the acceleration in the equality movement is due in large part to "students who have really run with it. Their influence on their parents has made things much faster. It's also succeeding in part because of its capitalist overtones."
As the book shows it has taken decades of tentative steps to reach the events of 2013 and 2014. "Politicians tend to get there last but it takes a certain amount of courage on their part. There is a tremendous sea-change now."
She explained that gay marriage "is our way of talking about love, commitment and family. Whether or not you like the institution of marriage, it has so much power in society. It carries with it a mantle of gravitas."
Sales of her book go in part to support the work of MarriageEquality.org, so check out that website!
We Do!: American Leaders who Believe in Marriage Equality (204 pages) is by Akashic Books. Visit their website: www.akashicbooks.com
Photo of Jennifer Baumgardner in Miami is copyright by Cliff Cunningham