Told through the eyes of dozens of ordinary LGBTQ Americans who joined an extraordinary movement, “The People’s Victory: Stories From the Front Lines in the Fight for Marriage Equality” traces MEUSA’s origins in New York and California in the late 1990’s to its growth into a nationwide force of tireless activists.
Each of these activists, including the late Edie Windsor, Cathy Marino-Thomas, Stuart Gaffney & John Lewis, Del Shores, and countless others, most of whom are not household names, played a key role in making it possible for loving and committed LGBTQ couples to be recognised under the law and afforded the rights and respect that come with marriage.
“We wanted to show the world the power of everyday individuals to bring about monumental change,” wrote Marriage Equality USA Executive Director Brian Silva in the book’s introduction. “As a grassroots organisation, MEUSA has always believed this fight for hearts and minds was something only achievable when everyday people not only believed they had the power to make change, but acted on it.”
The book caps off the decades-long activism of MEUSA and officially marks an end to its work. It also serves as a blueprint for dedicated activists who are pursuing civil rights on a host of other issues.
“‘The People’s Victory’ is a mirror for each of us to see our own power to fight for justice and create the change we want to see in our world,” wrote California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom in the book’s Foreword. Newsom is the former San Francisco Mayor and an iconic marriage equality advocate. “Marriage equality was the vehicle for these authors – but what will yours be? I hope these stories inspire you to resist, to fight, to win, and in the end write the next stories in our continuing push for a more just and perfect union,” he said.
Kirsten Berzon, one of the book’s dozens of authors, echoed those sentiments in her essay, writing: “When I think about… my tenure as a marriage equality activist, I keep coming back to the famous quote by Margaret Mead: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’”
In her piece, the late Edie Windsor remembers a 2007 briefing in which she was told by an LGBT movement leader that marriage equality would be addressed “a couple years down the line.” The fierce and feisty activist recalls retorting: “‘I’m 77 years old and I can’t wait!! What do we have to do?’ On that same night I signed up as a Marriage Ambassador. From then on Thea [Spyer] and I were at every MENY rally, speech and public event we could attend…”
“This book is a true labor of love and a final tribute to MEUSA,” said Brian Silva. “It’s also a call to action for all those fighting on the front lines of our most pressing social justice issues today. As I note in the book: ‘The fight to be treated equally in marriage cannot end at the altar or county clerk’s office. Those forces seeking to deny same-sex couples equal marriage rights for so long are the same people, ideologies and resources working against anyone who is pushing our country to be more fair and just. The People’s Victory elevates and honours the everyday heroes of social justice who make the brave decision to no longer sit idly on the sidelines of history. Instead, they hold a sign, attend a meeting, and share their stories. They are you.’”
The book is available for free digital download and at cost in print to ensure it distributed widely in libraries, educational facilities, and LGBTQ centres throughout the nation.