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Freedom to Marry Coalition


The Unspoken Hero Behind Same Sex Marriage

Sierra Heaton

Salt Lake Community College

Freedom to Marry was an advocacy group that fought for federal rights, regarding same

sex couples to marry. Throughout the years, it has had a massive positive impact on creating

equality for the LGBTQ community. The members of this organization fought tirelessly for the

past decade to ensure that the public and federal government were aware about the terrible

treatment and oppression LGBTQ’s were facing nationwide. The Freedom to Marry coalition

was the most productive interest group involved in this cause. The amount of time and money

they put into their issues had a massive impact on the same sex community. Although they no

longer exist, as their goals have been achieved, they were an inspiring organization with a

historic and touching upbringing.

The beginning of the modern LGBTQ movement began in 1969 after Stonewall, which

led to the formation of the Freedom to Marry interest group. Stonewall sparked attention from a

pretentious Harvard student, Evan Wolfson, who wrote one of the first pieces of literature, that

supported Gay rights. “The 140-page thesis, written at a time when same-sex couples had no

recognition anywhere in the world (let alone marriage), explained that denying on class of people

access to marriage was state-sponsored discrimination that required correction” (Pioneering the

Movement, 2003). This is an incredible part in LGBTQ history, because it was the first

documented literature where an author fought for same-sex couples; Evan Wolfson was many

decades in front of his time.

In 2003, Wolfson partnered with the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund to create the

Freedom to Marry interest group. Since national laws would not be altered without the support of
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Freedom to Marry Coalition
the legislature or Supreme Court, he knew that creating an interest group was a perfect place to

begin the process of change (Popovich, 2015).

The Freedom to Marry organization created “the roadmap to victory”, which included

three steps to create the environment needed to reach their equality goal. The first step was to

win the freedom to marry in the states. This goal was achieved in 2004, when Massachusetts

became the first state to legally allow same-sex couples to marry (Pioneering the Movement

2003). Following Massachusetts’ example, Connecticut, Washington, Maryland, and California

all legalized same-sex marriage the next year. Freedom to Marry worked tirelessly to gain

support from donors such as Tom Gill, Matt Coles, and the American Civil Liberties Union. This

led to the second step in the process, which was to build and grow majority support for marriage.

As more and more citizens became aware of the oppression and discrimination of the LGBTQ

community, the Freedom to Marry began to gain a massive amount of support. In 2012, the

Democratic Party announced that they accepted same sex marriage. Finally, ending federal

marriage discrimination looked as though it could be attained. On June 26, 2015 gay marriage

became legal nationwide. I remember how relieved and grateful it felt to finally have federal

support for my friends and loved ones who were a part of the LGBTQ community. Because of

the Freedom to Marry interest group, equality was finally given to all citizens.

The Freedom to Marry Coalition fought for the rights all equal treatment of all LGBTQ

citizens. They were a heavy influence during Obama’s presidency, mainly focusing on ending

the laws against same sex marriage. They were also a heavy influence on increasing awareness

on same sex discrimination and reaching out to politicians and the public on the key issues

concerning the LGBTQ community. For example, “Freedom to Marry had laid the groundwork

with the White House and the justice Department to apply the DOMA ruling to broadest possible
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Freedom to Marry Coalition
number of same-sex couples—respecting all marriages legally entered into, regardless of where

the couple now resided” (Now Association, 2015).

Freedom to Marry is a fascinating interest group that has had a massive impact on

LGBTQ history. It’s positive influence on equal rights has liberated millions of Americans to

feel safe and supported in their communities.


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Freedom to Marry Coalition
References
Popovich, Matt. “After a Big Supreme Court Win, Freedom to Marry is Winding Down.
Its Momentum Lives On.” Now Associations, 29 June 2015,
associationsnow.com/2015/06/freedom-to-marry-winding-down/.
“Winning the Freedom to Marry Nationwide: The Inside Story of a Transformative
Campaign.” Freedom to Marry, 2016, www.freedomtomarry.org/pages/how-it-
happened#section-2.