The United States achieved federal marriage equality in June 2015. It was a triumphant and meaningful moment for the entire LGBTQ community.
Now, the stories of the people who ‘banded together to create one of the most miraculous political victories in modern American history’ are being told in a brand new book.
From Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA), The People’s Victory is an oral history of those who fought on the front lines of marriage equality. MEUSA was a grassroots organization founded in 1996 dedicated to achieving marriage equality. Their doors closed this year, but not before culminating their success with this book.
Executive Director Brian Silva spoke to GSN about the book and what the organization hopes it accomplishes.
‘There’s been a lot written about the fight for marriage, but most of them really focused around specific campaigns or court cases,’ he said.
‘What we know is the meat and potatoes, if you will, of this fight was always carried out by the everyday people who volunteers, who shared their stories, and put their families front and center.’
That’s what this book is — a collection of essays from the people who fought long and hard to make marriage equality a reality.
‘Marriage is not full equality’
Silva and the rest of the MEUSA team understand marriage equality was only part of the battle.
‘You can’t have full equality without marriage,’ he explained. ‘But marriage is not full equality.
‘We know there’s a lot more to be done. But in trying times like today, it’s easy to think, “What can I as an individual do?” So it was also important for us to show people fighting for transgender rights, women’s rights, environmental rights, racial injustice, that it has always been the people taking action that has led to permanent and lasting social change.’
Inspiration to feel empowered
‘I hope that everyday people read it and feel empowered,’ Silva said of the book’s impact.
The People’s Victory goes far beyond marriage equality. After all, there are many progressive movements that can become more victories for the people.
The book is also available as a free download to help spread this message.
Silva explained the decision: ‘We wanted to make it as accessible as possible so on that day that everything seems hopeless, you can read a story from somebody — and they’re not all positive — that you can pick yourself up, keep fighting, and eventually win.’
Marriage equality is a decidely politicized issue. However, this book strips that away and offers human stories instead.
Silva explained the late Edie Windsor’s beginning with marriage equality, fighting to marry her partner Thea Spyer. Windsor happens to be one of the authors in the book.
‘Those are the human stories — parents talking about their children, grandparents talking about their grandkids,’ he said. ‘These are not abstract concepts, these are living and breathing people affected by our decisions.’
Furthermore, LGBTQ history is lacking in the education system. There is also a hope this book can help combat that.
‘I really do hope it becomes something queer kids can read to see the fight is not hopeless, and our history is rich and diverse,’ Silva said.
‘There is hope even in the darkest of times.’
Silva continues to fight for LGBTQ rights.
He works with an offshoot program of MEUSA, the National Equality Action Team (NEAT), which first began in 2012. It became an independent organization this year, working to continue fighting against discrimination and equality for all issues within the LGBTQ community.