WATCH: Tony Kushner presents Evan Wolfson with Pride Agenda Leadership Award
October 22, 2013
On Thursday, October 17, Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson received the Douglas W. Jones Leadership Award at the Empire State Pride Agenda's fall dinner in New York City. The Pride Agenda is New York's leading state-wide organization dedicated to fighting on behalf of LGBT people, and the award caps off a wonderful year for Evan and for the marriage movement, which saw two landmark victories at the United States Supreme Court, huge gains in public support, and five states extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples. Evan was honored alongside Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer who represented Edie Windsor in her historic Supreme Court case that resulted in the central part of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act being struck down.
Upon accepting the award, Evan thanked the loved ones in his life - including his husband, Cheng He. The couple celebrated their second wedding anniversary just last week. He also took the opportunity to rally support for the freedom to marry nationwide, explaining the work that needs to get done before we can achieve the national victory we've been working so hard toward. He said (FULL TEXT HERE):
It is not enough that we have won the freedom to marry in New York and 12 other states, and 18 countries on five continents, up from zero a little more than a decade ago. It is not enough that we have dealt a mortal blow to federal marriage discrimination and brought many of the federal protections of marriage to families in every state in the country.
Two-thirds of the American people live in the 37 other states that still deny the freedom to marry and so many other protections. And that two-thirds includes a disproportionate share of the most vulnerable of our own: LGBT people raising kids, LGBT people of lesser means, LGBT people in more hostile communities, and a higher percentage of LGBT people of color. And even those of us who live in freedom to marry states like New York might travel, work, or relocated to non-marriage states - or even just across the George Washington Bridge. And we will find out then that our families are without protection and our marriages without respect. With the nationwide victory that we've worked so hard for now within reach - in years, not decades, if we fulfill Freedom to Marry's plan from New York to New Mexico to New Jersey - we don't just want to create golden ghettos. We want to win it all.
This is no time to step back or away from the transformative vocabulary, winning strategy, driving engine, or hard-earned momentum of the campaign to win marriage. In Lincoln's words: 'We each hold the power and bear the responsibility. We must rise with the occasion. We must strive on to finish the work we are in, dedicated to the great task remaining before us. We are not done until we are done.'
Tony Kushner, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter behind Angels in America and Lincoln who received a National Medal of Arts from President Obama this year, presented Evan Wolfson with the prestigious honor from the Pride Agenda. In his speech, Kushner spoke to Evan's clarity of vision and devotion to the work to win marriage nationwide. He said (FULL TEXT HERE):
Evan's vision of marriage equality has always been as generous and expansive and deserving of the word 'vision' as his pursuit of it has been strategic, disciplined, and realistic. He saw - long before most of us could see it - that marriage equality was an achievable goal with a vast promise. He saw that marriage equality would be a critical advance in the struggle for LGBT enfranchisement, and as such, a contribution to the nation, and as such, an enlargement of the Democratic spirit - essential to that spirit's survival. Because unless democracy strives to perfect itself and expand itself and to include more and more people, it dies - which God, and the Democratic majority in the Senate, and let's go for it, a Democratic majority in the House in 2014 - forbid.
With the imminent achievement of nationwide marriage equality - and all that that earth-shakingly implies (imminent, though, as Evan always reminds us, not to be taken for granted - we have a lot of work left to do) - democracy and democratic government proves itself to us, the people, once again. We the people prove ourselves to ourselves yet again, working yet another political miracle. Along with his honorable, skillful, devoted stewardship of marriage equality - for which we all feel enormously grateful - I think what I admire most about Evan is his quiet, unwavering adherence to faith in democracy, which admonishes all of us, even in dark times, to do likewise.