At San Francisco’s “Gay Freedom Day” in 1978, city supervisor Harvey Milk urged the crowd to come out. “Once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions,” he said. “For your sake. For their sake.” Milk’s reasoning was simple: When people realized that their friends, family and neighbors were gay, it would be much harder for them to think of gay and lesbian Americans as “other,” and the foundations of bigotry would crumble.
We took the same storytelling approach at the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), where we serve as board members. And whether the stories are political, theatrical or legal, conservative or liberal, heartwarming or practical, each story serves a singular purpose: to break down the barriers to full federal recognition of the right of every American to marry the person they love.
It’s hard to believe AFER’s story began just four years ago this month, when California voters narrowly passed Proposition 8, writing institutionalized discrimination into the state’s constitution. AFER enlisted Ted Olson and David Boies who, in challenging Prop 8, made a bold strategic decision. They rejected the idea of incrementalism and opted instead to pursue the “big question.” They decided to challenge Prop 8 on constitutional grounds and directly address the marriage equality question at the federal level.
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