Mary Bonauto, lead counsel in the Massachusetts case that won same-sex couples the right to wed, spoke in November at a WBUR Kennedy Library Forum about marriage equality. When asked about the potential impact of the demonstrations that have sprung up since the election, she said:
Demonstrations are important. They make people feel good also, and involved, and connected with the issues. But I will say this: I think the most important thing that anybody can do is to find those people who are conflicted about this issue, who don’t want to discriminate but really don’t like the idea of extending marriage to same-sex couples, and to have a one-on-one, heart-to-heart conversation with them, repeatedly. That is what changes minds, and not demonstrations. So if I had any recommendation for everyone who cares about this issue, it’s to get raw, real, and vulnerable with people where it’s outside of your comfort zone to do so. And that’s what’s going to make a lasting difference.
Bonauto’s fellow panelists were Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, one of the preeminent constitutional law experts in the U.S., who wrote the amicus curiae brief for the ACLU in Lawrence v. Texas, and taught some community organizer from Illinois named Barack Obama; and State Senator Marian Walsh, assistant majority leader, a devout Catholic representing one of the most conservative Catholic districts in the state, who has nevertheless voted and spoken out in support of marriage equality, even in the face of reelection pressure.
The full Forum is now online, and well worth a listen, even though it’s over an hour. You can stream it as a RealMedia file or download it as an mp3 (suitable for iPods and the like). There’s no direct link, but you can easily find it if you scroll down the page.
It’s a fascinating look back at the Massachusetts decision as well as a look forward at marriage equality post-Prop 8, by some of those in the best position to offer thoughtful opinions.
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