The event, chaired by Freedom to Marry president Evan Wilson, was held at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, was attended by more than 100 people, and featured some of the same-sex couples fighting in federal court to secure marriage equality in Texas.
Attorneys representing those couples will make their case before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals January 9, after which a panel of three judges will decide whether to uphold a lower court's February ruling that declared Texas's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
When Mason Marriott-Voss, who described himself as "a not shabby addition to [his] debate team," took the stage, he offered a concise, pointed explanation as to why it's time for the Lone Star State to embrace the freedom to marry.
Using the example of his "pretty ordinary" family — including a younger stepsister who is a straight-A student and loves "subversive things" like The Hunger Games, Gossip Girl, and fashion, a younger brother who has pledged to wear a Santa hat outfitted with Yoda ears every day this month in hopes of bringing Austin a white Christmas, and his two moms — the 16-year-old eloquently destroyed antigay arguments rooted in reverence for "tradition."
"There are still people who stubbornly refuse to recognize family even when it's right in front of them," Marriott-Voss said. "Some people are still genuinely concerned that my parents' love could harm tradition or erode society, maybe even threaten existing marriages."
In actuality, he acknowledged, his parents "are too busy helping us with finals to be eroding society right now."
"We share the same values and beliefs as everyone else, the same normal struggles and triumphs, except we are denied the basic dignity of being officially respected as the family that we are," the teenager continued. "These antifamily laws create a raw deal for kids like me. Marriage is supposed to be a very important issue, but these laws cause children to be raised across the country in homes without it. The most important thing I want you to take away from me today, is that it's not our families that need to change, it's Texas."
Watch Marriott-Voss's speech below, filmed by Wright.