Evan Wolfson: The Godfather of Gay Marriage

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evan-wolfsonEvan Wolfson found the lack of marriage equality in the United States to be unacceptable. That’s why he founded Freedom to Marry, a nonprofit organization that has worked tirelessly in the campaign to win marriage nationwide. Often referred to as “the godfather of gay marriage,” Wolfson will be honored for his highly renowned and inspirational work in bringing marriage equality to Georgia at the 2015 Igniting Change awards reception presented by Gideon’s Promise on Oct. 1 at The Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Gideon’s Promise is a nationally renowned organization that inspires, mobilizes and trains public defenders to provide the highest quality representation to people unable to afford an attorney. Just before the party, Equally Wed, which is headquarted in Atlanta, stole a few moments with Wolfson to ask him some key questions about marriage equality and the journey he’s been on with Freedom to Marry.

Q-pink You wrote the book Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People’s Right to Marry in 2004, but how long have you been involved in this fight for marriage equality?



A-gray In my third year of law school, I wrote the thesis of why gay people should marry and why we should fight for it. I’ve been working on it ever since 1983.



Q-pink Did you believe there were states (such as Georgia) that wouldn’t get to marriage equality without a federal ruling?




Well, I always believed that we would win and the way we would win is setting the stage with the Supreme Court. I believed if we won enough states and enough support, we would create the climate to win a national ruling. The strategy was never to win states one by one.



What’s been the biggest hurdle in this entire journey?




The biggest piece of work is to win people over, change hearts and minds and translating that into political action.



What do you say to the naysayers in our own community who say we have bigger things to worry about than marriage equality?



Gay people don’t have to all agree on things any more than any other group. The public perceptions of gay people and transgender people have certainly changed with the marriage movement. Not one victory is everything. We have to harness the power of this win. The progress we’ve made in the marriage chapter has been monumental. [During the time period of this fight] we’ve won more nondiscrimination laws, housing laws and laws for the protections of [LGBTQ] children.



 What’s next for you now that our country has won marriage equality?



A-grayFor me, I haven’t decided yet. I have been focused on Freedom to Marry for the last 32 years. I want to allow myself time to reconnect with what I care about, share the lessons I’ve learned and see who I am when I’m not Mr. Marriage anymore.