NYT reporter Jo Becker's new book, Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality, includes this preposterous statement:
This is how a revolution begins. It begins when someone grows tired of standing idly by, waiting for history’s arc to bend toward justice, and instead decides to give it a swift shove. It begins when a black seamstress named Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in the segregated South. And in this story, it begins with a handsome, bespectacled thirty-five-year-old political consultant named Chad Griffin, in a spacious suite at the Westin St. Francis hotel in San Francisco on election night 2008.
What pretentious, ahistorical rubbish. The marriage equality movement was a reform movement, not a revolution, and did not begin in 2008. A lot of people were working for marriage equality long before then. We were not standing idly by but laying the groundwork in a variety of ways: strategizing, researching, organizing, educating, lobbying, fundraising, litigating, debating, testifying, writing and advocating in cities and states across the country. We were building support among lawyers, legislators, and opinion makers. We were developing talking points and winning people over in countless difficult conversations and sustained efforts over many years in our families and neighborhoods and faith communities. The assertion that Chad Griffin started it is ridiculous and insulting and discredits Becker's entire book. I hope Griffin has the sense and perspective and respect to distance himself from this hyper-inflated nonsense.
Andrew Sullivan, who was advocating for marriage equality two decades before Griffin came along, offers a bracing take-down to Becker's "jaw-dropping distortion."
I remember Evan Wolfson being viciously attacked in the 90s by gay people for his marriage advocacy. I remember the vitriol Sullivan endured back then as well. How lovely it must be for them, after so many years of trenchant advocacy on the front lines and taking the debate to places others didn't dare go (and would have been unprepared to handle), to be treated like fluffers by people who arrived fairly late in the struggle and stood on the shoulders of those who came before.
For D.C.'s part in the struggle, you can look at the timeline that Bob Summersgill and I prepared, at my oral history shot by students at Cesar Chavez Public Charter High Schools, and at my December 2013 article on the lessons from our victory.
(Photo of Chad Griffin by Rex Wockner)