The following excerpt is from The People's Victory: Stories From the Front Lines in the Fight for Marriage Equality. The book tells the extraordinary stories of everyday volunteers doing the grassroots work to win marriage equality. Its stories are meant to inspire the next generation of activists to fight for their critical issues. The book is available to download (free in June) or order at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Google Play, and more, and at MarriageEquality.org/book.
On May 22, 2007, Thea Spyer and I were legally married in Toronto, Canada. When we returned to New York, we were anxious to find a way to have our marriage recognized in our home state.
Later that year, Thea and I attended a town hall meeting at the LGBT Center in New York City that had been organized by Marriage Equality New York (MENY). They were planning to have a variety of speakers to talk about the upcoming elections, the New York State Senate and other issues concerning our community. That was a very special night. I arrived, pushing Thea in her wheelchair, and the room was very big and there were just a few people. Suddenly though it was mobbed! I needed help finding a seat, so I approached a woman who seemed in charge and told her I needed a spot in the front for my wife's wheelchair telling her we can't sit in back. She was very helpful and brought us to the front. I later learned she was the head of MENY, Cathy Marino-Thomas, who later became a very dear friend.
That night there was someone there from HRC who was bringing us up to date on how the world was. And he was saying "we are just in line with the administration, we have exactly the same agenda, and our timing is the same," and he named all the things. Then someone in the audience said "what about marriage?" And he said arrogantly "well that's a couple years down the pike." His tone implied 'marriage is not of interest now in our incredibly wonderful and highly respected agenda...'
I couldn't believe his what he said, or how he was saying it! So I raised my hand - and I was a little surprised when Cathy came down from the stage with the microphone and stuck it in my mouth. I said "I'm 77 years old and I can't wait!! What do we have to do?"
From then on we were at every MENY rally, speech and public event we could attend given Thea's condition. After Thea died and I won my case at the Supreme Court, I continued to support (now) MEUSA, attending and speaking at events and rallies because even though I won, we still didn't have full marriage equality in the U.S.