Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality

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9780143127239: Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality

*A New York Times Notable Book of the Year*

* A Washington Post Best Book of the Year (Nonfiction)*

* A Kirkus Best Book of the Year*

“Jo Becker has written a riveting history of one of America’s great court cases. She captures our struggle for freedom and its epic sweep just perfectly. Future generations will turn to her book to understand Proposition 8 from its inception its journey to the Supreme Court, along with special insights into the remarkable DOMA victory led by the legendary Edie Windsor.”--David Mixner, LGBT Activist and Author of Stranger Among Friends and Brave Journeys: Profiles in Gay and Lesbian Courage  


 “[A] riveting legal drama, a snapshot in time, when the gay rights movement altered course and public opinion shifted with the speed of a bullet train... Becker’s most remarkable accomplishment is to weave a spellbinder of a tale that, despite a finale reported around the world, manages to keep readers gripped until the very end.” --The Washington Post

A groundbreaking work of reportage by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jo Becker, Forcing the Spring is the definitive account of five remarkable years in American civil rights history, when the United States experienced a tectonic shift on the issue of marriage equality. Focusing on the historic legal challenge of California’s ban on same-sex marriage, Becker offers a gripping, behind-the scenes narrative told with the lightning pace of a great legal thriller. Taking the reader from the Oval Office to the Supreme Court ruling, from state-by-state campaigns to an astounding shift in national public opinion, Forcing the Spring is political and legal journalism at its finest.

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About the Author:

JO BECKER is a Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter for The New York Times, where she has broken stories on everything from the United States’ lethal program to kill suspected terrorists to the British phone-hacking affair and the Penn State child sexual abuse scandal. She has taught investigative journalism as a visiting professor at Princeton University, and her work has earned her numerous awards. A Washington Post series she coauthored on Vice President Dick Cheney won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting.

@Jo_Becker

www.JoBecker.net

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Standing before the audience of donors in Nevada, Dustin Lance Black--winner of the Academy Award for best original screenplay for Milk--knew before uttering a word that he was in for trouble. Hours earlier, he had been confronted in the hotel’s courtyard by Evan Wolfson, the fifty-two-year-old founder of a group called Freedom to Marry and the primary author of the cautious state-by-state marriage strategy that the gay rights movement had been pursuing.

Wolfson had berated the younger man, explaining as though to a willful but ignorant child his ongoing, twenty-five-year plan to build support for marriage equality nationwide. Twenty-five years? Black had practically gasped. But he had said little; it was intimidating, to say the least, to be dressed down by a pioneer of the marriage equality movement.

Wolfson had devoted his life to the cause, writing his third-year thesis at Harvard Law School in 1983 on the right of gays and lesbians to marry, an idea considered so radical at the time that he had trouble finding an academic adviser. He had served as co-counsel in the first state court case challenging a same-sex marriage ban, filing a lawsuit in the early 1990s in Hawaii. He had won the case but lost the battle when voters there enacted a Prop 8-like constitutional amendment. His book on the subject had been called “perhaps the most important gay-marriage primer ever written.”

Following the encounter, a shaken Black had called Chad Griffin in his room for reassurance.

There was, both felt, a generation gap at work. Younger activists like Chad and Black had grown up in a relatively safer world, where gays and lesbians were not forced to congregate in bars with no windows for fear of being raided and attacked, where courts did not routinely strip custody from gay parents in divorce proceedings, and where they saw themselves reflected positively in television shows like Will & Grace. It was easier for them to envision success now.

“This just means we are doing the right thing,” Chad had said.

Still, it was with some trepidation that Black launched into his speech. Following the passage of Proposition 8, he told the crowd, he was shocked when a leader of one of the largest gay rights organizations in the country offered this advice: “He said, ‘If we just quiet down, they’—whoever they are—‘will let us do whatever we want.’

“Those are the words of one of the leaders of our current organizations, and as a student of Harvey Milk, I will tell you they are not just the same ‘kind’ of people who told Milk it was too soon for a gay elected official back in 1977— some of them are the very same people.”

The movement was at a critical juncture, he continued, and “as Martin Luther King said on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, ‘This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.’”

Full equality, he said, could only happen at the federal level.

“The strategy of the past decade has failed,” he declared, a direct rebuke to many in the audience. “We have lost state and local fights time and again.

“It has been thirty years since Harvey Milk gave his life in our struggle for equality, and we will not wait thirty years more. It is time for us to stop asking for crumbs and demand the real thing.”

If there was applause, Black didn’t remember any. Instead, he recalled an ocean of pursed lips and crossed arms, and that he was literally trembling as he walked off the stage. Wolfson was silently seething. The idea that this newcomer thought his strategy timid and incremental infuriated him; no one wanted full federal equality more than him, but national change required more than wishful thinking.

“Harvey Milk didn’t start by running for president,” he later grumbled. “He ran for city supervisor, and he ran and lost twice before he won.”

Tim Gill, whose foundation was the largest funder of gay rights causes in the country, denounced Black outright, telling the crowd he was naïve and misguided. Chad, who was standing in the wings with Bruce Cohen, was shocked at the level of open hostility. After all, Black hadn’t even specifically mentioned marriage or a federal lawsuit.

“Chad was saying, ‘Oh my God, we are going to be loathed and hated. How are we going to sell this?’ ” Black recalled.

And things were about to get worse.

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. *A New York Times Notable Book of the Year* * A Washington Post Best Book of the Year (Nonfiction)* * A Kirkus Best Book of the Year* Jo Becker has written a riveting history of one of America s great court cases. She captures our struggle for freedom and its epic sweep just perfectly. Future generations will turn to her book to understand Proposition 8 from its inception its journey to the Supreme Court, along with special insights into the remarkable DOMA victory led by the legendary Edie Windsor. --David Mixner, LGBT Activist and Author of Stranger Among Friends and Brave Journeys: Profiles in Gay and Lesbian Courage [A] riveting legal drama, a snapshot in time, when the gay rights movement altered course and public opinion shifted with the speed of a bullet train. Becker s most remarkable accomplishment is to weave a spellbinder of a tale that, despite a finale reported around the world, manages to keep readers gripped until the very end. --The Washington Post A groundbreaking work of reportage by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jo Becker, Forcing the Spring is the definitive account of five remarkable years in American civil rights history, when the United States experienced a tectonic shift on the issue of marriage equality. Focusing on the historic legal challenge of California s ban on same-sex marriage, Becker offers a gripping, behind-the scenes narrative told with the lightning pace of a great legal thriller. Taking the reader from the Oval Office to the Supreme Court ruling, from state-by-state campaigns to an astounding shift in national public opinion, Forcing the Spring is political and legal journalism at its finest. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780143127239

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