FIRST COMES LOVE
FIRST COMES LOVE Celebrating and Continuing the Fight for Equality
Volume 1, Issue 1 ď€ź San Francisco
Between the headlines and history books
First Comes Love: Celebrating and Continuing the Fight for Equality Volume 1, Issue 1 Published in March 2014 Manufactured in San Francisco ÂŠ 2014 Fourth All Rights Reserved Editor: Holly Leach Assistant Editors: Ben Morehouse and Jerry Holden Art Direction: Maria Montes and Holly Leach Design: Marin Devine, Jon Meyer and Ron Bailey Copy Editors: Teri Leach and Lindsey Lewandowski
CONTENTS EDITOR’S LETTER HOLLY LEACH 7 EQUAL IN ALL THINGS MARIA L.LA GANGA 10 Couples in California rushed to marry joyously and cautiously, worried that the window for gay marriage would slam shut again MANY SMALL STEPS DAVID CRARY AND CHRIS GEIDNER 24 The Supreme Court’s rulings were one giant leap for gay rights, but achieving equality for all will now require many small steps by states MORE PERFECT UNIONS LIZA MUNDY 46 Same-sex couples can teach their straight counterparts a lot about how to maintain a happy union and show society how the institution of marriage is changing NEXT ON THE DOCKET GREG BOTELHO 78 These monumental advances not only inspire further action—they require it, as equality for all for the LGBT community is a long way off ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 93
DEAR READER, Welcome to the first issue of Fourth, your complete news journal. Fourth is unlike any other print news publication you’ve picked up. Inspired by the printed newspaper’s unique, untapped ability to extend the news cycle, Fourth works to bridge the continuity gap between the headlines and history books. We’re here to solve your confusion and sate your curiosity. Our content rivals that of a Sunday newspaper, but our issues hit the newstands with the consistency of a quarterly. We only report on events after they have developed beyond the standard eight-word headline. We give you journalism that is complete and concentrated and provide you with an in-depth understanding of how a news event impacts your life. Each issue will cover one topic in-depth. For this inaugural edition, we’ve tackled the U.S. Supreme Court’s monumental decisions on rights for same-sex couples. We hope to provide you context for what happened in the past as well as educate you about future. We here at Fourth are excited about our journal, and we hope you are two. We believe it will not only fill a gaping chasm in news coverage, but also revolutionize the way you use and experience print— and, by proxy, all—news.
HOLLY LEACH EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
EQUAL IN ALL THINGS Couples in California rushed to marry joyously and cautiously, worried that the window for same-sex marriage would slam shut yet again BY MARIA L. LA GANGA for Fourth
Craig Stein, left, and Bobby Meadows were one of the first couples to marry in San Francisco after Proposition 8 was overturned.
JEFF CHIU ASSOCIATED PRESS
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They piled into their white Prius in Los Alamitos at midnight and arrived at San Francisco City Hall not long after sunrise with just one simple goal in mind: A marriage license. Right now. Sandy Palmer and Mary Dang knew they couldn’t get the crucial piece of paper over the weekend in Orange County, where they have lived together for 10 years. And they worried that the right to marry granted by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on a Friday afternoon, June 28, 2013, could be taken away again on Monday morning. Such a matrimonial bait and switch had happened to gay and lesbian couples in California before—not once, but twice. Hence the sleepless night, the moonlit sprint up Interstate 5, the 90-minute wait on the steps of City Hall as early morning traffic rushed by and the line for licenses swelled. “We had a wedding in 2010,” said Palmer, 33, a pirate-themed affair with swords and hats, friends and family. “It was amazing, but the legal piece was missing. I wanted to make this a part of my personal history, to grab the moment, be part of something special—not just for me, but for the country.” That combination of joy and tension radiated throughout the beaux-arts building all day June 29, a Saturday, as couples from
Cynthia Wides, right, and Elizabeth Carey file for a marriage license at City Hall in San Francisco on June 29, 2013.
MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Jayne Rowse, left, and her partner, April Deober, both of Michigan, hold hands as they announce their lawsuit challenging Michigan’s restrictions on samesex partners adopting children.
MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ ASSOCIATED PRESS
throughout the state converged on what was believed to be the only government office in California issuing marriage licenses. By the time the doors swung open at 9:10 a.m., a line of more than 100 people snaked along the building’s north side. And on its south side? That’s where a miniature tent city for the San Francisco Pride Celebration & Parade opened for business. The
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two-day fete usually draws a million people; organizers expected the crowd to swell by 20 percent because of the court decisions legalizing same-sex marriage in California and striking provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. For some couples, that Saturday in San Francisco offered a chance to make up for lost opportunities, for not having wed during the brief windows in 2004, when more than 4,000 same-sex marriages were performed in San Francisco, and in 2008, when such unions were legal statewide before Proposition 8 was passed. For others, such as Greg Van Dyke and Andrew Zack, lining up for a marriage license “was completely serendipitous.” It was Van Dyke’s 43rd birthday, and the Los Angeles couple had bought plane tickets weeks earlier so they could celebrate his big day here.
For some couples, lining up for a marriage license offered a chance to make up for lost opportunities, for not having wed during the brief window in 2004.
The dermatologist and the Hollywood agent have been together for a year. They have a wedding planned for Santa Barbara on Thanksgiving weekend. Zack’s cousin, a rabbi, is flying in from London to do the honors. But “we got in late last night,” Van Dyke said, “had dinner, got up this morning, walked over to City Hall to see it.” And ended up in line for a marriage license. ‘I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU SPOUSES FOR LIFE’ In the first hour of business that Saturday morning alone, San Francisco officials issued about 100 marriage licenses. All told, 246
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were granted and 188 couples were married on the first full day of legal, post-Proposition 8 marriage. The process was summed up nicely by a small sign outside the county clerk’s office: “License = $99. Ceremony = $75. Both = $174. Equality = Priceless.” Everyone working at City Hall was a volunteer, from the cashiers taking the license payments to the greeters keeping the process running smoothly and the marriage commissioners in their long black robes intoning, “By virtue of the authority vested in me by the state of California, I now pronounce you spouses for life.” The grand rotunda with its sweeping marble staircase rang with cheers, “I do’s” and the sounds of decisions made on the fly: Are the witnesses here? Shall we do the ceremony by the steps? Do you have a ring? Where did my family go? Wedding photographers Danielle Fernandez, 33, and Janeen Singer, 32, had planned to celebrate Pride weekend together in Dolores Park, home of the Dyke March, with a bottle of champagne. Instead, they headed to City Hall in matching black shirts emblazoned with “lesbian and wedding photographer.” Rates started at a discounted $40. Until the high court’s rulings, Fernandez said, their job had been “pretty hetero.” But not anymore. “There’s something about the energy around today,” Fernandez said. “It’s validation…. People are glowing. It makes for good photographs.” When Tom Rothgiesser and George Lucas (no, not that one) arrived at the Civic Center to cap off half a century of togetherness, they did not need a marriage commissioner to officiate. Previous page: Cynthia Wides, right, and Elizabeth Carey kiss as they wait in line to wed at City Hall in San Francisco.
MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ ASSOCIATED PRESS
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246 188 ON THE FIRST FULL DAY OF LEGAL, POST-PROP 8 MARRIAGE:
MARRIAGE LICENSES WERE ISSUED AT SAN FRANCISCO CITY HALL, AND
SAME-SEX COUPLES WERE MARRIED AT SAN FRANCISCO CITY HALL
The 79-year-olds brought their own Superior Court judge, a retired jurist with a pedigree. Judge James Warren is a longtime friend and the grandson of Earl Warren, the legendary U.S. Supreme Court justice who advanced civil rights nationwide. Warren said his grandfather would have been thrilled. “Equal protection under the law was the most important thing to him,” he said. “He was rabidly in support of it.” Rothgiesser and Lucas met in South Africa, and when they came to the United States, marriage was never seen as a possibility. “The idea was preposterous,” Rothgiesser said. Years later, when gay couples were marrying in 2008, the men were traveling in New Zealand, where Lucas was born. By the time they made it back, Proposition 8 had passed, banning gay marriage. With the law finally overturned after a lengthy court battle, they married each other in the center of City Hall’s marbled atrium. Each held a bundle of white roses. “Ladies and gentlemen, Tom and George have committed their lives together as husbands in the state of California,” Warren said after the ring exchange. Then: “Tom and George, you’re married.”
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The happy couple celebrated their nuptials with miniature cupcakes. Marriage, they said, probably won’t change their relationship. But still, it was an emotional morning. “It will probably hit us,” Lucas said, “later.” I-DO-DAY DRAMA Weddings never come off without a hitch, and these were no different. ProjectMarriage, the sponsors of Proposition 8, filed an emergency petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to stop same-sex marriages from continuing in California. The filing occurred less than 24 hours after the marriages had resumed. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who started California’s wedding saga in 2004 when he was mayor here, said Saturday afternoon that he was not concerned about the legal maneuver. People should not be surprised about such challenges, he said, as he posed for pictures with his daughter and a long line of newly married couples. “This door in California is wide open,” the lieutenant governor said, “and it will remain open.” Les Leventhal and his wedding party weren’t worried either. The 45-year-old had just married his partner of 14 years. The two San Francisco men are moving to Bali on Monday. Together. As spouses. Legalities aside, “I think the train’s already left the station,” James Warren Boyd, a witness at the wedding, said of gay marriage. “Even if they manage to stop it again, it’s not a matter of if, but when.”
Army Capt. Michael Potoczniak, kisses Todd Saunders during their wedding ceremony at San Francisco City Hall.
MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ ASSOCIATED PRESS
FIRST COMES LOVE
22 Stein, left, and Bobby Meadows were one of the first couples to marry Craig in San Francisco after Prop. 8 was overturned.
JEFF CHIU ASSOCIATED PRESS
EQUAL IN ALL THINGS
MANY SMALL STEPS
The Supreme Court’s rulings were certainly one giant leap for gay rights, but achieving equality for all will now require many small steps by states BY DAVID CRARY AND CHRIS GEIDNER for Fourth
Kevin Miller, left, and Luca Facchin pose with their marriage certificate on the steps of San Francisco’s City Hall.
MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ ASSOCIATED PRESS
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The Supreme Court’s landmark rulings on same-sex marriage have energized activists and politicians on both sides of the debate. Efforts to impose bans, and to repeal them, have taken on new intensity. The court, in two 5-4 decisions June 2013, opened the way for California to become the 13th state to legalize gay marriage, and it directed the federal government to recognize legally married samesex couples by striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. But the rulings, while hailed by gay-rights activists, did not declare a nationwide right for gays to marry. Instead, they set the stage for state-by-state battles over one of America’s most contentious social issues. Already, some of those battles are heating up. In Pennsylvania, the only Northeast state that doesn’t legally recognize same-sex couples, gay state Rep. Brian Sims, a Philadelphia Democrat, says he will introduce a bill to allow same-sex marriages. The bill may flounder in the GOP-led Legislature, but the issue is likely to be volatile in next year’s gubernatorial race, pitting GOP Gov. Tom Corbett, an opponent of gay marriage, against any of three Democrats who favor it. In Arizona, gay-rights supporters have begun circulating petitions aimed at repealing the state’s 2008 ban on same-sex marriage by way of a ballot measure next year. With California’s ban quashed, Arizona
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Gail Lloyd celebrates the Pennsylvania attorney general’s announcement that she will not defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage against Lloyd’s legal challenge in federal court.
MATT ROURKE ASSOCIATED PRESS
is now among 29 states with constitutional amendments that limit marriage to one-man, one-woman unions. Gay-rights activists and Democratic politicians in several other states also hope to repeal the bans in their states—in Oregon, Ohio and Arkansas with possible ballot measures next year, and in Nevada and Michigan with referendums in 2016. Ohio activist Ian James of FreedomOhio said his group’s resolve to collect signatures “has been doubled” as a result of the Supreme Court decisions. And Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat who favors repealing his state’s ban, said the court action “underscores the urgency of extending the freedom to marry to all our citizens.”
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FOR SOME, LAWS NOT STRONG ENOUGH In Indiana and West Virginia, some Republican politicians want to move in the other direction, joining the ranks of states with constitutional bans. Both states have laws that bar gays from marrying, but constitutional amendments are viewed as more durable measures that resist being overturned by litigation. The leaders of Indiana’s Republican-controlled Legislature had deferred action on an amendment during this year’s session, opting to wait for the Supreme Court rulings. Now, with the backing of GOP Gov. Mike Pence, they say the Legislature will consider the ban in the session starting in January, possibly putting the question to voters later next year. “The future of marriage matters,” he said. “And it belongs in the hands of Hoosier voters, not the courts, not Hollywood, and not the activists seeking to change it from what it is and always has been.” West Virginia, like Indiana, has a state law prohibiting gay marriages. Until now, though, it has not joined the parade of states taking a further step with a constitutional amendment. After the Supreme Court rulings, the leader of the large Republican minority in the House of Delegates suggested there is now an urgent need for an amendment. “We don’t know when someone might file a lawsuit or have some other issue come up where a judge can review that,” said Tim Armstead. “We need to go to the next step.” Democratic Delegate Stephen Skinner, West Virginia’s first openly gay lawmaker, disagreed. “There’s really not much reason for a constitutional amendment, except to promote discrimination and promote homophobia,” he said. Jane Abbott Lighty, left, and her wift Pete-e Petersen raise a giant marriage equality flag atop the Seattle’s Space Needle.
ELAINE THOMPSON ASSOCIATED PRESS
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SAME-SEX MARRIAGE ACROSS THE UNITED STATES ALLOWS SAME-SEX MARRIAGE ALLOWS CIVIL UNIONS CONSTITUTIONALLY BANS SAME-SEX MARRIAGE DOES NOT ALLOW SAME-SEX MARRIAGE, BUT DOES NOT CONSTITUTIONALLY BAN IT
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13 28 OF THE NATION’S FIFTY STATES:
ALLOW SAME-SEX MARRIAGE, WHILE MORE THAN DOUBLE THAT NUMBER,
STATES BAN SAME-SEX UNIONS WITH A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
ANOTHER DAY IN COURT National gay-rights leaders expect that lawsuits seeking to expand gay marriage rights will eventually bring the issue back to the Supreme Court in a quest to establish a nationwide, 50-state policy. Lawsuits already are pending in a number of states. Some of those involved were heartened by the rulings. “What this does is establish very, very powerful precedents that we will be able to use in our case,” said Mark Lawrence of Restore Our Humanity, which is backing a legal challenge by three same-sex couples to a ban approved by Utah voters in 2004. Michigan’s constitutional ban, also approved in 2004, is the target of a pending lawsuit by Detroit-area nurses April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse seeking a right to jointly adopt each other’s children. The federal judge hearing the case had been waiting for the Supreme Court before issuing a judgment. In New Mexico, one day after the high court’s ruling, two gay men from Santa Fe asked the state Supreme Court to decide whether same-sex marriage is legal. The lawsuit contends that denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples violates the state constitution,
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Members of Marriage Equality USA walk along Fifth Avenue in New York City during the city’s 2013 gay pride parade.
JULIA WEEKS ASSOCIATED PRESS
including provisions prohibiting gender-based discrimination and guaranteeing equal protection under the law. New Mexico is one of only five states—along with West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Wyoming and Indiana—that has neither extended legal recognition to gay couples nor enacted a ban-gay-marriage constitutional amendment. There also is litigation in three states offering civil unions to gay couples, providing the rights and responsibilities of marriage but not extending that title. In New Jersey, one lawsuit contends that civil unions do not fulfill a state Supreme Court mandate from 2006 that gay couples receive
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equal treatment to married heterosexual couples. The plaintiffs say they will soon file a motion arguing that, in light of the Supreme Court ruling, the only thing that is keeping the couples from equal treatment is the state law. New Jersey’s Democratic-majority Legislature passed a bill last year to legalize gay marriage, but it was vetoed by Republican Gov. Chris Christie. He says the matter should be decided in a referendum. “There is no longer any excuse to delay,” said Troy Stevenson of Garden State Equality. “It is as immoral as it is impractical to force any New Jersey family to be stripped of critical economic and legal protections every time they cross the Hudson or Delaware Rivers.” Hawaii’s civil union law, adopted in 2011, is being challenged in federal court by two women who want to marry rather than enter into a civil union. Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who supports a right to same-sex marriage, says the Supreme Court ruling on federal benefits for same-sex couples bolsters his argument. Illinois also allowed civil unions in 2011, but efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in the last legislative session fell short. The bills’ sponsor, Democratic Rep. Greg Harris, shared Abercrombie’s hope. Meanwhile, gay-rights lawyers are pressing ahead with a lawsuit on behalf of more than two dozen same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in Cook County. The suit also challenges an Illinois law that defines marriage as between a man and woman. SLOW AND STEADY PROGRESS Gay-rights activists in some conservative states say there is no nearterm prospect for softening their states’ gay-marriage bans, and they’re looking toward a more incremental approach.
Left: Jane Abbott Lighty, left, and her wift Pete-e Petersen raise a marriage equality flag atop the Seattle’s Space Needle.
ELAINE THOMPSON ASSOCIATED PRESS
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In states such as Georgia, Idaho and Louisiana, these efforts include lobbying for local and statewide anti-discrimination laws that would extend protections to gays and lesbians. In Wisconsin, a state that has tilted Democratic in national elections, Republicans now hold power at the Statehouse, and there’s little discussion by gay-rights supporters of mounting an effort to repeal the gay-marriage ban approved by voters in 2006. Instead, gay-rights activists there are trying to defeat a conservative group’s lawsuit challenging a 2009 domestic partnership law that ended some legal rights to same-sex couples. Wyoming has no constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, but proposals to permit civil unions and to ban discrimination against gays died in the latest legislative session. State Rep. Cathy Connolly, the openly lesbian Democrat who sponsored those bills, says Wyoming’s strong libertarian streak might be conducive to a legalization of same-sex marriage at some point in the state’s future. OUT LIKE A LAMB Gay rights supporters realize that there is a long way to go, but derive hope from opponents’ waning success and expect it to quietly disappear with a whimper. They cite not grand rallies or Pride parades, but a July 2013 Senate committee hearing as proof. In a nondescript Senate hearing room on the fourth floor of the Dirksen Senate Office Building, a Senate committee voted 15-7 in favor of legislation that would ban antiLGBT job descrimination by most employers across the U.S. The
Previous page: Gay rights activist Vin Testa waves a rainbow flag in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on the day the high court handed down its opinions on DOMA and California’s Proposition 8.
J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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opposition to LGBT rights, a regular part of politics in the not-sodistant past, was given no voice. There remain wide swaths of the country where virulent anti-LGBT attitudes control the dialogue, but the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee provided an unexpected view into what the next phase of LGBT rights battle could look like. No one spoke in opposition to the bill, the Employment NonDiscrimination Act, as Chairman Tom Harkin’s committee took up a vote of the legislation for the first time in more than a decade. ENDA, in some ways, is past its time. If judging by public opinion, it should have been passed years ago—and many people tell pollsters that they already think it is law. But, the opposition to LGBT rights has thus far kept a foothold in Congress, with members regularly and consistently providing a voice to those views. That July committee hearing was different. The only senator
Equal rights supporters derive hope from their opposition’s waning success and expect it to quietly disappear with a whimper.
present who voted against sending the bill to the floor was the ranking Republican on the committee, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander. The other six “no” votes were cast by proxy. Even Alexander, though, said nothing against the bill. To the contrary, he praised changes and compromises made to the bill already, suggested more that he would like to see, and praised the bill’s sole Republican sponsor on the committee. “I want to commend Sen. (Mark) Kirk for his leadership on this issue over the years, and thank him for his hard work on this bill,
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and give him now the opportunity to make the opening statement,” Alexander said, giving Kirk the floor to push for the bill’s passage. Kirk then used his opening statement to tie ENDA’s passage to historic efforts to advance civil rights in America. “In Illinois, we all measure ourselves against the career of Abraham Lincoln and think about the legacy that that means. I would say that I measure myself against Everett Dirksen and his support for the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Republican leadership as the best moment in his career,” Kirk said. “(With) this legislation, I’m very proud to do it in the tradition of Illinois’
Supporters know there is a long way to go, but derive hope from gay rights opponents’ waning success and expect it to quietly disappear with a whimper.
Dirksen and Lincoln.” In addition to Alexander and Kirk, Sen. Lisa Murkowski was the only other Republican senator in attendance—and she joined Kirk in voting yes. Sen. Orrin Hatch, a longtime vote target on ENDA for LGBT advocates, finally gave them the yes vote they wanted. “I voted for it because it prohibits discrimination that should not occur in the workplace, it protects the rights of religious
entities, and minimizes legal burdens on employers,” Hatch said in a statement provided to The Washington Blade following his “yes” vote, which was cast by proxy. “Sen. Hatch is a leader and today he stepped up,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin told BuzzFeed after the vote. “What is clear today is that this bill is advancing with bipartisan support.
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Helena Miller, left, and her wife, Dara Raspberry, tend to their six-week-old daughter, Zivah, in Pennsylvania.
MATT ROURKE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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… You never know exactly what motivates every single one of these folks up here, but this issue, of all issues, should be nonpartisan.” In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the federal definition of marriage in the Defense of Marriage Act, Griffin’s statement, in some ways a posturing soundbite, had the added power of several votes and statements to back it up. The Senate committee, in fact, looked like one would expect a place to look anti-LGBT sentiment has lost its political savor. As the bill moves on—to the floor of the Senate most likely, and then over to the House if the Senate passes the bill—someone will give those views opposed to LGBT rights voice yet again. There were, though, no such voices on that July afternoon. The movement for LGBT rights takes a heavier lift, of course, than just the opposition’s silence. It takes yes votes, it takes action, it takes genuinely changed minds, and it takes time. But, for the movement against LGBT rights, it will have reached its end when there’s no one left who is willing to voice those views. In that Senate committee—for the first time on the national legislative stage—people saw what that will look like.
Proposition 8 plaintiffs Paul Katami, right, and Jeff Zarrillo kiss while riding in San Francisco’s Pride parade in June 2013.
NOAH BERGER ASSOCIATED PRESS
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A pregnant woman and her partner march in Caracas, Venezuela’s gay pride parade in June 2013.
ARIAN CUBILLOS ASSOCIATED PRESS
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MORE PERFECT UNIONS Same-sex couples can teach straight couples a lot about how to maintain a happy union and show society how the institution of marriage is changing BY LIZA MUNDY for Fourth
Holding their wedding photo, Brian Helms, left, and Jeff Enochs, of Charlotte N.C., kiss in celebration of the high courtâ€™s rulings.
JEFF SINER ASSOCIATED PRESS
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It is more than a little ironic that gay marriage has emerged as the era’s defining civil-rights fight even as marriage itself seems more endangered every day. Americans are waiting longer to marry: according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median age of first marriage is 28 for men and 26 for women, up from 23 and 20, respectively, in 1950. Rates of cohabitation have risen swiftly and sharply, and more people than ever are living single. Most Americans still marry at some point, but many of those marriages end in divorce. (Although the U.S. divorce rate has declined from its all-time high in the late ’70s and early ’80s, it has remained higher than those of most European countries.) All told, this has created an unstable system of what the UCLA sociologist Suzanne Bianchi calls “partnering and repartnering,” a relentless emotional and domestic churn that sometimes results in people forgoing the institution altogether. Though people may be waiting to marry, they are not necessarily waiting to have children. The National Center for Family and Marriage Research has produced a startling analysis of data from the Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that women’s median age when they have their first child is lower than their median age at first marriage. In other words, having
Erika Knott holds her 6-year-old son, Jeremy, close at a New Orleans gay pride rally. Knott married her partner, Kelly Bryson, in 2007 in Canada. They’re now talking about a second wedding in California.
GERALD HERBERT ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Rick Nelson Flor, right, holds a bouquet next to his partner, Robert O’Rourke, before their June 2013 wedding in West Hollywood.
JAE C. HONG ASSOCIATED PRESS
children before you marry has become normal. College graduates enjoy relatively stable unions, but for every other group, marriage is collapsing. The old Groucho Marx joke—“I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member”—applies a little differently in this context: you might well ask why gays and lesbians want to join an institution that keeps dithering about whether to admit them even as the repo men are coming for the furniture and the fire marshal is about to close down the clubhouse. Against this backdrop, gay-marriage opponents have argued that allowing same-sex couples to wed will pretty much finish matrimony off. This point was advanced in briefs and oral arguments before the Supreme Court in March 2013; the court struck down such arguments two months later.
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SANCTRIMONIOUS ARGUMENTS The belief that gay marriage will harm marriage has roots in both religious beliefs about matrimony and secular conservative concerns about broader shifts in American life. One prominent line of thinking holds that men and women have distinct roles to play in family life; that children need both a mother and a father, preferably biologically related to them; and that a central purpose of marriage is abetting heterosexual procreation. During the Supreme Court arguments over Proposition 8, Justice Elena Kagan asked Charles J. Cooper, the lawyer defending California’s gay marriage ban, whether the essence of his argument against gay marriage was that opposite-sex couples can procreate while same-sex ones cannot. “That’s the essential thrust of our position, yes,” replied Cooper. He also warned that “redefining marriage as a genderless institution could well lead over time to harms to that institution.” Threaded through this think-
Threaded through this thinking is a related conviction that mothers and fathers should treat their union as “permanent and exclusive”
ing is a related conviction that mothers and fathers should treat their union as “permanent and exclusive,” as the Princeton professor Robert P. George and his co-authors write in the new book What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense. Marriage, seen this way, is a rigid institution that exists primarily for the rearing of children and that powerfully constrains the behavior of adults (one is tempted to call this the “long slog ’til death” view of marriage), rather than an emotional union entered
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into for pleasure and companionship between adults. These critics of gay marriage are, quite validly, worried that too many American children are being raised in unstable homes, either by struggling single parents or by a transient succession of live-in adults. They fear that the spread of gay marriage could help finally sever the increasingly tenuous link between children and marriage, confirming that it’s okay for dads, or moms, to be deleted from family life as hedonic fulfillment dictates. In mounting their defense, advocates of same-sex marriage have argued that gays and lesbians who wish to marry are committed to family well-being; that concern for children’s welfare is a chief reason many do want to marry; that gay people are being discriminated against, as a class, in being denied rights readily available to any heterosexual. And to the charge that same-sex marriage will change marriage, they tend to argue that it will not—that married gays and lesbians will blend seamlessly with the millions of married straight Americans. “The notion that this group can somehow fundamentally change the institution of marriage—I find it difficult to wrap my head around,” says Gary Gates, a demographer with the Williams Institute, a research center affiliated with the UCLA School of Law. CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN But what if the critics are correct, just not in the way they suppose? What if same-sex marriage does change marriage, but primarily for the better? For one thing, there is reason to think that, rather than making marriage more fragile, the boom of publicity around samesex weddings could awaken among heterosexuals a new interest in the institution, at least for a time. But the larger change might be this: by providing a new model of how two people can live together equitably, same-sex marriage could help haul matrimony more fully into the 21st century. Although marriage is in many ways fairer
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Rick Nelson Flor, right, holds a bouquet next to his partner, Robert O’Rourke, before their June 2013 wedding in West Hollywood.
JAE C. HONG ASSOCIATED PRESS
and more pleasurable for both men and women than it once was, it hasn’t entirely thrown off old notions and habits. As a result, many men and women enter into it burdened with assumptions and stereotypes that create stress and resentment. Others, confronted with these increasingly anachronistic expectations—expectations at odds with the economic and practical realities of their own lives— don’t enter into it at all. Same-sex spouses, who cannot divide their labor based on preexisting gender norms, must approach marriage differently than their heterosexual peers. From sex to fighting, from child-rearing to chores, they must hammer out every last detail of domestic life without falling back on assumptions about who will do what. In this regard, they provide an example that can be enlightening to all couples. Critics warn of an institution rendered “genderless.” But if
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a genderless marriage is a marriage in which the wife is not automatically expected to be responsible for school forms and child care and dinner preparation and birthday parties and midnight feedings and holiday shopping, I think it’s fair to say that many heterosexual women would cry “Bring it on!” Beyond that, gay marriage can function as a controlled experiment, helping us see which aspects of marital difficulty are truly rooted in gender and which are
Same-sex couples are working things out in ways that straight couples would do well to emulate, like their back-to-square-one approach to define duties and roles in their marriages.
not. A growing body of social science has begun to compare straight and same-sex couples in an attempt to get at the question of what is female, what is male. Some of the findings are surprising. For instance: we know that heterosexual wives are more likely than husbands to initiate divorce. Social scientists have struggled to explain the discrepancy, variously attributing it to the sexual revolution; to women’s financial independence; to men’s failure to keep modern
wives happy. Intriguingly, in Norway and Sweden, where registered partnerships for same-sex couples have been in place for about two decades (full-fledged marriage was introduced several years ago), research has found that lesbians are twice as likely as gay men to
Previous page: Harper Sorenson, 2, sits atop dad Svend Sorensen’s shoulders as they march in Seattle’s gay pride parade.
ELAINE THOMPSON ASSOCIATED PRESS
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split up. If women become dissatisfied even when married to other women, maybe the problem with marriage isn’t men. Maybe women are too particular. Maybe even women don’t know what women want. These are the kinds of things that we will be able to tease out. In the past few years, as support for same-sex marriage has gained momentum, advocates have been able to shift their strategy away from fighting bans on it and toward orchestrating popular votes in its favor. In 2012, voters in Maine, Maryland, and Washington state passed measures legalizing same-sex marriage, joining the District of Columbia and the six states that had already legalized gay marriage via legislatures or courts. Similar measures are moving forward in four other states, and it seems likely that gay marriage will continue its spread through the land. So what happens, then, to the institution of marriage? The impact is likely to be felt near and far, both fleetingly and more permanently, in ways confounding to partisans on both sides. RULES FOR A MORE PERFECT UNION Not all is broken within modern marriage, of course. On the contrary: the institution is far more flexible and forgiving than it used to be. In the wake of women’s large-scale entry into the workplace, men are less likely than they once were to be saddled with being a family’s sole breadwinner, and can carve out a life that includes the close companionship of their children. Meanwhile, women are less likely to be saddled with the sole responsibility for child care and housework, and can envision a life beyond the stove top and laundry basket. And yet for many couples, as Bianchi, the UCLA sociologist, has pointed out, the modern ideal of egalitarianism has proved “quite difficult to realize.” Though men are carrying more of a domestic workload than in the past, women still bear the brunt of the second shift. Among couples with children, when both spouses work
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full-time, women do 32 hours a week of housework, child care, shopping, and other family-related services, compared with the 21 hours men put in. Men do more paid work—45 hours, compared with 39 for women—but still have more free time: 31 hours, compared with 25 for their femal counterparts. Men face a set of unfair expectations all their own: the Pew Research Center found in 2010 that 67 percent of Americans still believe it’s “very important” that a man be ready to support a family before getting married, while only 33 percent believe the same about women. This burden, exacerbated by the economic realities facing many men today, has undoubtedly contributed to marriage’s decline. Deanna Ryan carries the letter “O” as part of a balloon brigade spelling “love” during San Francisco’s 2013 gay pride parade.
NOAH BERGER ASSOCIATED PRESS
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It’s not that people don’t want to marry. Most never-married Americans say they still aspire to marriage, but many of them see it as something grand and out of reach. Getting married is no longer something you do when you are young and foolish and starting out; prosperity is not something spouses build together. Rather, marriage has become a “marker of prestige,” as the sociologist Andrew Cherlin puts it—a capstone of a successful life, rather than its cornerstone. But while many couples have concluded that they are not ready for marriage, they have things backwards. It’s not that they aren’t ready for marriage; it’s that marriage isn’t ready for the realities of 21st-century life. Particularly for less affluent, less educated Americans, changing economic and gender realities have dismantled the old institution, without constructing any sort of replacement.
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SAME-SEX COUPLES DO IT BETTER As we attempt to come up with a more functional model, research on same-sex unions can provide what Gary Gates of the Williams Institute calls an “important counterfactual.” Although gays and lesbians cannot solve all that ails marriage, they seem to be working certain things out in ways straight couples might do well to emulate, chief among them a back-to-the-drawing-board approach to divvying up marital duties. A
The decline is not because couples aren’t ready for marriage; it is because marriage isn’t ready for the realities of life in the 21st century.
body of scholarship on household division of labor shows that in many ways, same-sex couples do it better. This scholarship got its start in the late 1960s, with a brilliant insight by the sociologist Pepper Schwartz, then a doctoral candidate at Yale. Against a backdrop of cultural upheaval—including changes at the university, which had just begun to admit female
undergraduates—gender was, Schwartz says, “all we thought about.” Like many of her peers, she was keen to figure out what women were and what men were: which traits were biological and which social, and where there might be potential for transformational change. “It occurred to me,” she says, that “a naturally occurring experiment” could shed light on these issues. Actually, two experiments: the rise of unmarried heterosexual cohabitation, and the
Engaged couple Krissy Bradbury, left, and Kathleen Watson ride Segways in Minneapolis’ gay pride parade.
RICHARD TSONG-TAATARII ASSOCIATED PRESS
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AMERICANS HAVE DIFFERENT EXPECTATIONS OF MEN AND WOMEN:
PERCENT WHO THINK IT’S “VERY IMPORTANT” THAT A MAN BE ABLE TO SUPPORT A FAMILY BEFORE GETTING MARRIED, COMPARED TO
PERCENT WHO THINK IT’S “VERY IMPORTANT” THAT A WOMAN BE ABLE TO SUPPORT A FAMILY BEFORE GETTING MARRIED
growing visibility of gay and lesbian couples. If she surveyed people in three kinds of relationships—married; straight and cohabiting; and gay and cohabiting—and all showed similarity on some measures, maybe this would say something about both men and women. If the findings didn’t line up, maybe this would say something about the state of marriage today. After taking a teaching position at the University of Washington (where she remains a faculty member), Schwartz teamed up with a gay colleague, the late Philip Blumstein, to conduct just such a survey, zeroing in on the greater San Francisco, New York City, and Seattle metropolitan areas. It was a huge effort. Unmarried cohabiting couples were not yet easy to find, and gays and lesbians were so leery of being outed that when Schwartz asked a woman who belonged to a lesbian bridge group whether she could interview the other players about their relationships, the woman said, “We don’t even talk about it ourselves.” Schwartz and Blumstein collected responses to 12,000 questionnaires and conducted hundreds of interviews; at one point, they had 20 graduate students helping tabulate data. The
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project took about a decade, and resulted in a groundbreaking piece of sociology, the book American Couples: Money, Work, Sex. What Schwartz and Blumstein found is that gay and lesbian couples were fairer in their dealings with one another than straight couples, both in intent and in practice. The lesbians in the study were painfully egalitarian—in some cases putting money in jars and splitting everything down to the penny in a way, Schwartz says, that “would have driven me crazy.” Many unmarried heterosexual cohabitators were also careful about divvying things up, but lesbian couples seemed to take the practice to extremes: “It was almost like ‘my kitty, your litter.’ ” Gay men, like lesbians, were more likely than straight couples to share cooking and chores. Many had been in heterosexual marriages, and when asked whether
Scholars found gay and lesbian couples were fairer in their dealings with each other than straight couples, both in intent and in practice.
they had helped their wives with the housework in those prior unions, they usually said they had not. “You can imagine,” Schwartz says, “how irritating I found this.” There were still some inequities: in all couples, the person with the higher income had more authority and decision-making power. This was least true for lesbians; truer for heterosexuals; and most true for gay men. Somehow, putting two men together seemed to intensify the sense that “money talks,” as Schwartz and Blumstein put it. They could not hope to determine whether this tendency was innate or social—were men naturally inclined to equate resources with power, or had our culture ingrained that idea in them?—but the finding
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suggested that money was a way men competed with other men, and not just a way for husbands to compete with their wives. Among lesbians, the contested terrain lay elsewhere: for instance, interacting more with the children could be, Schwartz says, a “power move.” Lesbians also tended to discuss things endlessly, achieving a degree of closeness unmatched by the other types of couples. Schwartz wondered whether this might account for another finding: over time, sex in lesbian relationships dwindled—a state of affairs she has described as “lesbian bed death.” She posits that lesbians may have had so much intimacy already that they didn’t need sex to get it; by contrast, heterosexual women, whose spouses were less likely to be chatty, found that “sex is a highway to intimacy.” As for men, she eventually concluded that whether they were straight or gay, they approached sex as they might a sandwich: good, bad, or mediocre, they were likely to grab it. THE CONTAGION EFFECT Whatever this string of studies may teach us about marriage and gender dynamics, the next logical question becomes this: Might such marriages do more than merely inform our understanding of straight marriage—might their attributes trickle over to straight marriage in some fashion? In the course of my reporting this year in states that had newly legalized same-sex marriage, people in the know—wedding planners, officiants, fiancés and fiancées—told me time and again that nuptial fever had broken out around them, among gay and straight couples alike. Same-sex weddings seemed to be bestowing a new
Previous page: Sandy Stier, left, kisses Kris Perry after they were wed at San Francisco’s City Hall. Stier and Perry were the lead plaintiffs in the Supreme Court challenge to California’s Prop. 8.
MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Peter Madril, right, and Monte Young hug after gettting married at City Hall in San Francisco in June 2013.
MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ ASSOCIATED PRESS
frisson on the idea of getting hitched, or maybe restoring an old one. At the Gay and Lesbian Wedding Expo in downtown Baltimore, just a few weeks after same-sex marriage became legal in Maryland, Drew Vanlandingham, who describes himself as a “wedding planner designer,” was delighted at how business had picked up. Here it was, January, and many of his favorite venues were booked into late summer—much to the consternation, he said, of his straight brides. “They’re like, ‘I better get a move on!’ ” It was his view that in Maryland, both teams were now engaged in an amiable but spirited race to the altar. Ministers told me of wedding booms in their congregations. In her years as the pastor of the Unitarian church in Rockville, Maryland, Lynn Strauss said she had grown accustomed to a thin wedding roster: some years she might perform one or two services; other years,
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none. But this year, “my calendar is full of weddings,” she said. “Two in March, one in April, one in May, one in September, one in October— oh, and one in July.” Three were same-sex weddings, but the rest were heterosexual. When I attended the church’s first lesbian wedding, in early March, I spoke with Steve Greene and Ellen Rohan, who had recently been married by Strauss. It was Steve’s third marriage, Ellen’s second. Before he met Ellen, Steve had sworn he would never marry again. Ellen said
“I watch it on their faces—there’s a feeling that this is really special. Suddenly marriage is sexy again.” —ROBERT M. HARDIES, pastor
the arrival of same-sex marriage had influenced their feelings. “Marriage,” she said simply, “is on everyone’s mind.” Robert M. Hardies, who is a pastor at the Unitarian All Souls Church in Washington, D.C., and who is engaged to be married to his longtime partner and co-parent, Chris Nealon, told me that he has seen “a re-enchantment of
marriage” among those who attend same-sex ceremonies: “Straight folks come to [same-sex] weddings, and I watch it on their face— there’s a feeling that this is really special. Suddenly marriage is sexy again.” We could chalk these anecdotes up to the human desire to witness love that overcomes obstacles—the same desire behind all romantic comedies, whether Shakespeare’s or Hollywood’s. But could something a bit less romantic also be at work? There is some reason to suppose that attitudes about marriage could, in fact, be catching. The phenomenon known as “social contagion” lies at the heart of an increasingly prominent line of research on how our behavior and emotions affect the people we
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know. One famous example dates from 2008, when James H. Fowler and Nicholas A. Christakis published a study showing that happiness “spreads” through social networks. They arrived at this conclusion via an ingenious crunching of data from a long-running medical study involving thousands of interconnected residents— and their children, and later their grandchildren—in Framingham, Massachusetts. “Emotional states can be transferred directly from one individual to another,” they found, across three degrees of separation. Other studies have shown that obesity, smoking habits, and school performance may also be catching. THE SEX PROBLEM The question of whether gays and lesbians will change marriage, or vice versa, is at its thorniest around sex and monogamy. Private behavior could well stay private: when she studied marriage in the Netherlands, Lee Badgett, the University of Massachusetts economist, found that while many same-sex couples proselytize about the egalitarianism of their relationships, they don’t tend to promote non-monogamy, even if they practice it. Then again, some gay-rights advocates, like the writer and sex columnist Dan Savage, argue very publicly that insisting on monogamy can do a couple more harm than good. Savage, who questions whether most humans are cut out for decades of sex with only one person, told me that “monogamy in marriage has been a disaster for straight couples” because it has set unrealistic expectations. “Gaymale couples are much more likely to be realistic about what men are,” he said. Savage’s own marriage started out monogamous; the agreement was that if either partner cheated, this would be grounds for ending the relationship. But when he and his husband decided to adopt a child, Savage suggested that they relax their zero-tolerance
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policy on infidelity. He felt that risking family dissolution over such an incident no longer made sense. His husband later suggested they explicitly allow each other occasional dalliances, a policy Savage sees as providing a safety valve. If society wants marriage to be more resilient, he argues, we must make it more “monagamish.” This is, to be sure, a difficult argument to win: a husband proposing non-monogamy to his wife on the grounds that it is in the best interest of a new baby would have a tough time prevailing in the court of public opinion. But while most gay-marriage advocates stop short of championing Savage’s “wiggle room,” some experts say that gay men are better at talking more openly about sex. Naveen Jonathan, a family therapist and a professor at Chapman University, in California, says he
The idea of “social contagion” lies at the heart of a line of research on how our behavior and emotions affect the people we know.
sees many gay partners hammer out an elaborate who-can-do-what-when sexual contract, one that says, “These are the times and the situations where it’s okay to be non-monogamous, and these are the times and the situations where it is not.” While some straight couples have deals of their own, he finds that for the most part, they simply presume monogamy. A possible downside of this assumption: straight couples are far less likely than gay men to frankly and routinely discuss sex, desire, and the challenges of sexual commitment.
Ellen Pontac, left, and her wife, Shelly Bailes, celebrate after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Sacramento, California.
RICH PEDRONCELLI ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Sex, then, may be one area where the institution of marriage pushes back against norms that have been embraced by many gay couples. Gary Hall of the National Cathedral allows that in many ways, gay relationships offer a salutary “critique” of marriage, but argues that the marriage establishment will do some critiquing back. He says he would not marry two people who intended to be non-monogamous, and believes that monogamy will be a “critical issue” in the dialogue between the gay community and the Church. Up until now, he says, progressive churches have embraced “the part of gay behavior that looks like straight behavior,” but at some point, churches also have to engage gay couples whose behavior doesn’t conform to monogamous ideals. He hopes that, in the course of this give-and-take, the church ends up reckoning with other ongoing cultural changes, from unmarried cohabitation to the increasing number of adults who choose to live as singles. “How do we speak credibly to people about their sexuality and their sexual relationships?” he asks. “We really need to rethink this.” A CHANGE IS GONNA COME So yes, marriage will change. Or rather, it will change again. The fact is, there is no such thing as traditional marriage. In various places and at various points in human history, marriage has been a means by which young children were betrothed, uniting royal houses and sealing alliances between nations. In the Bible, it was a union that sometimes took place between a man and his dead brother’s widow, or between one man and several wives. It has been a vehicle for the orderly transfer of property from one generation of males to the next; the test by which children were deemed legitimate or bastard; a privilege not available to black Americans; something parents arranged for their adult children; a contract under which women, legally, ceased to exist. Well into the 19th century, the British
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Newly wed same-sex couples kiss on the steps of the Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana, California in July 2013.
AMY TAXIN ASSOCIATED PRESS
common-law concept of “unity of person” meant a woman became her husband when she married, giving up her legal standing and the right to own property or control her own wages. Many of these strictures have already loosened. Child marriage is today seen by most people as the human-rights violation that it is. The Married Women’s Property Acts guaranteed that a woman could get married and remain a legally recognized human being. The Supreme Court’s decision inLoving v. Virginia did away with state bans on interracial marriage. By making it easier to dissolve marriage, no-fault divorce helped ensure that unions need not be lifelong. The recent surge in single parenthood, combined with an aging population, has unyoked marriage and child-rearing. History shows
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Chris Beagle, left, and Eric Englehart of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, kiss as they became first gay couple in their county to wed.
CHUCK SNYDER ASSOCIATED PRESS
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that marriage evolves over time. We have every reason to believe that same-sex marriage will contribute to its continued evolution. The argument that gays and lesbians are social pioneers and bellwethers has been made before. Back in 1992, the British sociologist Anthony Giddens suggested that gays and lesbians were a harbinger of a new kind of union, one subject to constant renegotiation and expected to last only as long as both partners were happy with it. Now that these so-called harbingers are looking to commit to more-binding relationships, we will have the “counterfactual” that Gary Gates talks about: we will be better able to tell which marital stresses and pleasures are due to gender, and which are not. In the end, it could turn out that same-sex marriage isn’t all that different from straight marriage. If gay and lesbian marriages are in the long run as quarrelsome, tedious, and unbearable; as satisfying, joyous, and loving as other marriages, we’ll know that a certain amount of strife is not the fault of the alleged war between men and women, but just an inevitable thing that happens when two human beings are doing the best they can to find a way to live together.
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Revelers, supporters and spectators fill the street during San Francisco’s 43rd annual gay pride parade in June 2013.
NOAH BERGER ASSOCIATED PRESS
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NEXT ON THE DOCKET These monumental advances not only inspire further action—they require it, because equality for all in the LGBT community is still a long way off BY GREG BOTELHO for Fourth
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered rights supporters participate in the Dominican Republic’s gay pride parade.
EZEQUIEL ABUI LOPEZ ASSOCIATED PRESS
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There was a time to celebrate, but now it’s time to get back to work. Advocates of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights say they gained fresh energy and hope after twin Supreme Court rulings advanced efforts to legalize same-sex marriage. They want to ride that momentum for as far as possible—making inroads on issues ranging from workplace discrimination protections, immigration reform to bully-free schools. “This is absolutely historic, it’s monumental,” said Jody Huckaby, executive director of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG. “It may very well be that tipping point.” For people such as Huckaby, who heads a group with more than 360 chapters nationwide, what happened in the Supreme Court was thrilling, but not totally surprising. Yes, most states still bar same-sex marriage, many thanks to the passage of popular referendums. Yes, the federal government and most states don’t protect gay, lesbian or transgendered workers. But public opinion is moving in the direction of LGBT rights.
Donning a sash emblazoned with “Hope,” a participant in Chicago’s 2013 gay pride parade jubilantly waves to the crowd.
SCOTT EISEN ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Jim Darby, left, and Patrick Bova apply for a civil union license in Illinois. The state regconizes civil unions but bans same-sex marriage, which is currently being challenged in Illinois courts.
SPENCER GREEN ASSOCIATED PRESS
In the 1970s, polls showed most Americans believed homosexual relationships between consenting adults were morally wrong—a belief that persisted into the first few years of the 21st century, according to CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. In contrast, the most recent CNN/ORC International survey shows 55 percent of Americans back same-sex marriage, up 11 percentage points from 2008. Voters in three states approved measures legalizing such unions in November 2012. Numerous corporations have adopted policies barring discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation—contrary to the laws in most
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states, where a person could still be fired if they are found out to be gay. Two of America’s most watched TV shows, “Modern Family” and “Glee,” feature openly gay characters. Wilson Cruz had been a pioneer of sorts in the 1990s, when he played a gay teen on ABC’s “My So-Called Life.” Times have changed since then, he said, as Americans get to know more gays and lesbians—whether they are cousins, neighbors or characters on TV shows. The Supreme Court decisions striking down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and clearing the way for same-sex marriages in California could accelerate the movement even more, Cruz said. “I really do believe this is the domino that is going to tip over the rest of the dominoes,” he said. “Do not get in the way of this train, because it will run you over.” STATE-BY-STATE Teddy Witherington can now make wedding plans. He and his partner live in San Francisco, where same-sex marriage is (once again) legal.
Most states don’t have laws barring discrimination based on sexual orientation, which means a person could still be fired if they are found out to be gay.
Witherington, who is British, has lived in the United States legally for the past 16 years, first as head of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade and Celebration, and now as chief marketing officer for Out and Equal Workplace Advocates. The high court’s actions gave him pride to live in his adopted home. “As an international citizen, (it) gives me so much gratitude because I see the very best that exists in this great nation,” Witherington said. “…It’s truly a beautiful thing.”
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Still, while he and other LGBT advocates characterized the court rulings as victories in their fight for equal rights, that doesn’t mean the fight is over. Some 70 percent of Americans live in the 37 states where same-sex marriage is not or will soon not be legal. In his ruling opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy said one reason the federal government is obliged to recognize gay and lesbian marriages that are legal in some
“I believe this is the domino that is going to tip over the rest. Do not get in the way of this train, because it will run you over.” —WILSON CRUZ, openly gay actor and activist for gay youth
places is because it is up to the states to decide marriage law. That is more likely to happen today than a few years ago, said Michael Cole-Schwartz, a Human Rights Campaign. LGBT advocates have learned to make their campaigns more about people wanting to be together than people wanting to get rights and benefits, he said. “We have really focused on the reasons why they want to get
married: because they love each other,” Cole-Schwarz said. “That’s really helped change the nature of the conversation.” WORKPLACE A BATTLEGROUND The Civil Rights Act makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against people based on their race, color, religion, sex or national origin. But not their sexual identity. Previous page: Demonstrators camped out in front of the Supreme Court in March 2013 as the high court heard arguments.
JOSE LUIS MAGANA ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Delaware state Sen. Karen Peterson, front, and her wife, Vikki Bandy, were the first same-sex couple to wed in their state.
ROBERT CRAIG ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Faith Kassan, left, and Jennifer Ehrman kiss before their July 2013 wedding ceremony in West Hollywood, California.
JAE C. HONG ASSOCIATED PRESS
That means, under federal law, there’s nothing to prevent a worker from failing to hire or firing someone because they are gay or lesbian. There are 21 states that do offer such protections, which leaves 29 that do not. In 34 states, there’s nothing to prevent a person from getting fired if they are transgendered. Activists are working to change that. Witherington points to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the Senate, calling now a "crucial moment" for politicians to change federal policy. The measure has 53 cosponsors, short of the 60 votes that bills typically need nowadays to pass if it’s opposed by the Republican minority. If it does pass, it would then have to be passed in the GOPled House of Representatives.
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Selisse Berry, the founder and CEO of Out and Equal Workplace Advocates, says she’s “very hopeful” a bill that includes protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people will pass. The larger movement in the society is a big reason why, she says. “Any time people get to know us as human beings, it makes a huge difference,” Berry said. “More and more people, all the time, are coming out. When that person has a relationship with others, it moves the dial forward.” Washington could take its cue from corporate America. On their own accord, most Fortune 500 companies already bar gays, lesbians and transgendered from being treated any differently
Most Fortune 500 companies already bar gays, lesbians and transgendered from being treated differently than other employees.
than any other employee. Why? Because they realize the importance of retaining the best people who perform well on the job, irrelevant of their sexual identity, according to Berry. “It’s about the bottom line, essentially,” she says. PACKED AGENDA Other issues are on LGBT advocates’ agenda as well. They want immigration reform measures being mulled in the Senate and House, for instance, to treat same-sex partners much like heterosexual spouses. They want safer schools, so youngsters aren’t threatened, hurt or otherwise victimized. And they are also mindful that transgendered people have “not seen as many gains as the gay and lesbian portion of our community,” says Cole-Schwartz of the Human Rights Campaign.
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“The way the media talks about transgendered people is in terms of violence and suicide rates, but those aren’t the only stories,” adds Cruz, noting that parts of America still don’t know or understand them. In other words, even after the Supreme Court decisions, there’s a lot that these activists still want to do. And to do it, Huckaby says, means harnessing “the collective energy” of people of all sexual persuasions who share the same values. That kind of movement could take place not just in the halls of Congress, but in stores and coffee shops on Main Street. “I know the power that there is in individual messages from the people who are willing to speak out,” said Huckaby, who grew up in Louisiana and has seven siblings—three of whom are homosexual, like he is, and four of whom are straight. “These (challenges) are not insurmountable.” T.J. Williams is eager to put himself out there, partner with others, work hard and make an impact. In his last year at Garrett Theological Seminary, he is working to combat poverty, address gun violence afflicting parts of Chicago and promote fair education. “What I am most interested in is creating unity among everyone who seeks justice and equality,” he said. For him, these issues and promoting LGBT rights are all related.
Estefano Gil of Venezuela celebrates with the Latin Gay Pride community during New York City’s 2013 Pride parade.
KEVIN R. WEXLER ASSOCIATED PRESS
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This first issue of Fourth has been years in the making. We would not be here today without the help of trusted advisors and are especially grateful for the guidance of Carolina De Bartolo, Dave Gottwald, Phil Hamlett and Chris Riggs. Their critiques and constructive criticism profoundly shaped this publication; thanks to them Fourth will have a lasting and, we hope, revolutionary impact on the consumption and creation of print journalism. This first issue would not have come together without our trusted writers, Greg Botleho, David Crary, Chris Giedner, Maria L. La Ganga and Liza Mundy, and intrepid Associated Press photographers. We are also indebted to Aoife Crofts, Knut Marius Synstad and Chunwen Tai, whose design advice was invaluable. Most of all, we’d like to thank the subjects of this issue, the members of America’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community. Your fight for equal rights has never been easy, and many have been lost along the way. We salute you for your strength and perseverance, and for the watershed civil rights moment that we all are currently living in. You taught the American public the meaning of love, a lesson that will continue to change us all for decades to come.
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