Jo Becker defended her much-criticized book on the marriage equality movement in an interview with Ronan Farrow yesterday, explaining her decision to focus on the legal effort to strike down California’s Proposition 8.
Several activists and commentators, such as Andrew Sullivan, Dan Savage, and Kevin Jennings, have objected to that focus, saying it discounts the work of those who have been fighting for marriage equality for decades.
Despite the book’s sweeping title, Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality, it has a limited scope, Becker told Farrow on his MSNBC show, Ronan Farrow Daily. “It’s not a history of the entire gay rights movement,” said Becker, a Pulitzer-winning New York Times reporter. “It’s not even a history of the entire marriage equality movement.”
Farrow asked her about the book’s opening, with the sentence “This is how a revolution begins,” followed by Becker’s account of Election Night 2008, with Prop. 8’s approval by voters and the reaction of political consultant Chad Griffin, who spearheaded the challenge to Prop. 8 that eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court. She compares Griffin to Rosa Parks.
Becker contended that the decision to challenge Prop. 8 in federal court was indeed a game-changer, as activists had previously taken a state-by-state approach for fear of an eventual loss in the nation’s highest court. “The entire LGBT legal establishment was opposed to taking a case to federal court. … This was absolutely a revolutionary step to take and one that was very controversial at the time,” she said.
The Prop. 8 case, which teamed up former legal adversaries David Boies and Ted Olson as lead attorneys on the side of marriage equality, “garnered huge headlines” and “attracted mainstream press in a way [the issue] hadn’t before,” Becker told Farrow.