Marc Solomon is the national campaign director for Freedom to Marry and was a pioneer in winning marriage equality in Massachusetts a decade ago. Now he has written a book, “Winning Marriage: The Inside Story of How Same-Sex Couples Took on the Politicians and Pundits—And Won,” about his experiences. He’s kicking off his national book tour tonight from 6-8 p.m. at Club Café in Boston. He’ll be joined by Mary Bonauto of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders and Carl Sciortino, executive director of the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts. The event is being held in collaboration with MassEquality. I had a chance to speak with Marc ahead of the event about his work in Massachusetts and what comes next.
I want to make it clear for our readers that you aren’t actually Boston-based; you’re in town to kick off your national book tour. But given what you’ve personally done for Massachusetts, I’m bending the rules a little bit. I mean, Deval Patrick wrote the forward to your book! But why Massachusetts? What was it about our state that made you feel this was a winnable case?
I actually didn’t file the lawsuits—I led the campaign to defeat two constitutional amendments against the decision. I moved to Massachusetts when the marriage case was filed in 2001; I was in graduate school at the time. We received the decision in our favor in 2003 from the Massachusetts Supreme Court. The battle really happened immediately after the decision was made on Nov. 18, 2003, to its final judgment on June 14, 2007. And that was because everyone—from the Catholic Church to former Governor Mitt Romney, and even supporters of the law today, like Secretary of State John Kerry—tried to overturn the law. It was crucial to protect this amazing and historic victory.
Same-sex marriage is allowed in 32 states. You’re closing in on your goal, so what comes next?
Well, we are winning, no doubt, but we’re not done yet. We still have to finish the job of securing gay marriage nationwide. We still have 40 percent of the country left behind. We’re focused on finishing the job in the South and Midwest. In my new book we lay out the lessons we’ve learned. Our hope is that other progressive movements can apply the lessons we’ve learned for issues like gun control and climate change. It’s about driving a cause forward. It’s about being passionate.
How does your Judaism influence your work?
I offer five quotes at the beginning of the book. One of them is from Theodore Herzl: “If you will it, it is no dream.” Having real power to bring something about and having the opportunity to make life better to make social change is the core of who I am. I’ve devoted my work life to this cause. It comes directly out of the values of tikkun olam (repairing the world).
Are you going anywhere on your book tour where gay marriage is not yet legal?
Well, I’m hoping that when we get to my home state of Missouri in two weeks it will be legal. It’s actually legal in St. Louis but not in Kansas City; today it’s in flux. I’m looking forward to going home and seeing my family. I’m looking forward to seeing my friends from Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy and BBYO. That’s the nice thing about writing a book—it’s a time when people come out to see you. I have very high hopes for two weeks from today. [Editor’s note: About an hour after this interview, the Missouri gay marriage ban was overturned.]
Four Questions is a weekly interview column featuring interesting people connected with the Greater Boston Jewish community. Find past columns here. Have an idea of someone we should interview? Email Molly!