Togo RPCV Evan Wolfson is married to the cause of Gay Marriage
Evan Wolfson spent two years with the Peace Corps in Togo in West Africa, and had his first gay relationship. After law school, he was recruited by the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, then run by Elizabeth Holtzman. He worked as a prosecutor from 1983 to 1988 (and wrote amicus briefs arguing for a ban on racial discrimination in jury selection and the abolition of the marital rape exemption) and, with Ms. Holtzman’s blessing, moonlighted free at Lambda from 1984 to 1988. Which meant he had to “come out” professionally.
In 2004, he wrote a book, “Why Marriage Matters,” in an attempt to generate dialogue with (mainly) heterosexual Americans who don’t realize that civil unions are a parallel alternative, not on an equal footing with marriage. “One state down, 49 to go,” Mr. Wolfson says of Freedom to Marry’s success rate. “Gay marriage is not what we’re looking for. We’re looking for the legal right for gays to marry. You don’t ask for half a loaf. We don’t need two lines at the clerk’s office when there’s already an institution that works in this country, and it’s called marriage. One of the main protections that come with marriage is inherent in the word: certainly in times of crisis any other word than marriage would not bring the same clarity or impart the same dignity.”
“The classic pattern for civil rights advancement in America is patchwork,” he says, “but I see equal marriage rights for gays becoming a nationwide reality over the next 15 to 20 years. I really believe it will happen in my lifetime.” Read more.
Cameroon RPCV Margaret Krome writes: Gay marriage proposals carry the message of hate
Several years ago we had a sign in our front yard in support of gay rights. A young visitor from elsewhere in the state came and whispered his amazement to my then-young son. "Do you know what it means? It means homos!" Yes, my son knew, and was startled that our visitor voiced such repugnance.
But almost no gay man or woman I've ever known would be surprised. Such cultural hostility is simultaneously the cause, result and direct purpose of the anti-gay rights amendments at both the national and state levels.
Are gays a legitimate enemy? Well, the right says it loves them despite their sin, but it seems that because they are "fallen," their claims to even the most basic human relationships aren't justified. Conservative hate-mongers challenge the common figure that 10 percent of the population is gay, as if by making the number smaller, they can attack them more freely. Yet many families I know have a brother, aunt, cousin, uncle or even a parent who's gay. Several of our children's friends have gay parents. Are we the enemy to ourselves? Why would we support a law that would make it harder for these people, no less law-abiding than others in the state, to be deprived of health insurance, medical care, retirement benefits, legal protection and all of the other benefits conferred by marriage?
Numerous commentators, including Wisconsin's Sen. Russ Feingold, have criticized President Bush for advancing an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment as strictly a divisive tactic to galvanize conservative voters prior to the 2006 fall elections. It's particularly blatant this time, since the amendment stands no chance at all of passing the Senate. Politicians, especially those with low popularity, have a long history of advancing measures based on the sure social calculus that setting up a clear enemy rallies the troops. Anti-communist rhetoric, complaints about trading partners, patriotic calls to arms, and mean-spirited attacks on vulnerable targets get louder before a national election. Read more.
Guatemala RPCVs Lara Weiss and Nora Wynne — accompanied by their 3-year-old twin daughters —turned down for marriage license
“In accordance with the laws of the state of California, a marriage license can only be issued to an unmarried man and an unmarried woman,” said Vicki Cushman, supervisor of vital records. “Until the law is changed, we are bound to uphold that law and can only issue a marriage license to an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. “If you would like the law changed, you need to contact your government officials at both the state and national levels.” Cushman then handed the couple three pages, neatly stapled together, that contained Cushman’s speech and contact information for several politicians — from President George W. Bush to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to Assemblymember Patty Berg.
Wednesday marked the fifth year demonstrators congregated outside the Humboldt County Courthouse, as multiple same-sex couples rode the courthouse elevator to the fifth floor to apply for marriage licenses.
Nora Wynne said she and Lara Weiss met in Guatemala in 1995 while in the Peace Corps. After a year, their friendship blossomed into something more. The two married in San Francisco in 2004 after San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom directed the county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Although Wynne said she is aware that until laws change, her marriage to Weiss is not legally valid, events such as Wednesday’s are just one of many steps to marriage equality. “We know that when people realize it’s not a religious issue, but a civil rights issue, and they change the laws accordingly,” Wynne said. “These are all just steps toward the goal.” Read more.
Caption: Friends Abigail Frankel, left, and Abigail Hastings-Tharp, right, both 4 1/2 years old, stand on the Humboldt County Courthouse steps in the rain, Wednesday afternoon, while couples of the same sex apply for civil marriage licenses. Photo: Katie O’Neill/The Eureka Reporter