VIDEO: Evan Wolfson talks 50th anniversary of Civil Rights Act on Face the Nation
April 14, 2014
This Sunday, April 13, Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson joined a panel of national leaders on CBS' Face the Nation to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act and to look ahead at what's next for the decades-long struggle for equality for all Americans.
The segment took a look at where we are in the United States 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. This week in Austin, advocates held a Civil Rights summit at the LBJ Library, and yesterday, Face the Nation hosted their own summit, featuring Evan, Tavis Smiley from PBS, Nikole Hannah-Jones of ProPublica and The Atlantic, and Michael Eric Dyson of Georgetown University.
When host Bob Schieffer asked Evan if the gay rights movement is the "next chapter" for the civil rights struggle, Evan reflected on how far we've come in the fight for the freedom to marry, contextualizing it within other civil rights movements. He said:
I wouldn't call it the next chapter. I think it's part of the same struggle. I think what the struggle, as President Obama said, that the Civil Rights movement did so much to lay the foundation for and President Johnson's work and Dr. King's work and all the millions of unsung heroes was to create an America that's a more perfect union for everybody. And gay people are part of that everybody. But as we've just all heard and said, we're not done with any of these fights on any of these fronts that overlap anyway. So it's not a matter of this or that or that. Civil rights is about the America we want for everybody, where everybody can participate and contribute.
Later, Evan added:
I would just say part of the reason we've seen this shift on gay people and support for the freedom to marry is because gay people have been able to come out of the closet. Non-gay people who support gay people who are part of a family with gay people have spoken up and told their stories. And it's bridging those gaps, showing the common connection that has enabled America to now come to majority support for the freedom to marry in a relatively short period of time, because that conversation and that reducing the separation and isolation has had that effect. One of the real inspirations for me out of this summit was in addition to the challenge to keep going was that people can do it. It's easy to get very despondent and frustrated and fearful for the future of the country. And yet, we also have these examples from our history that we can come together and we can do better.