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social sciences

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Wolfson, Evan (b. 1957)  
page: 1  2  3  

He is adamant that victory means the right to marry, not to have different and less beneficial systems such as civil unions or domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian citizens. "You don't ask for half a loaf," he declared to Finn. "We don't need two lines at the clerk's office when there's already an institution that works in this country, and it's called marriage. One of the main protections that come with marriage is inherent in the word: certainly in times of crisis any other word than marriage would not bring the same clarity or impart the same dignity."

Wolfson sees renewed cause for optimism—not that his own has flagged—in light of the eloquent and well-reasoned opinion of Vaughn R. Walker, Chief Judge of the United States District Court of the Northern District of California, calling for the restitution of the right of gay and lesbian couples to wed in that state, a right of which they were deprived by the passage of Proposition 8 in 2008.

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"What's happening here," Wolfson commented to Sandhya Somashekar of the Washington Post, "is the collapsing of the house of cards that the anti-gay opposition has relied on. . . . Everyone can now see the emptiness of the arguments that they are making."

Wolfson takes inspiration from the words of Gandhi on the process of change: "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win."

Wolfson and his partner (now husband), Cheng He, a Canadian-born microbiologist, reside in New York.

Fittingly, Wolfson and Freedom to Marry were deeply involved in the successful struggle to achieve marriage equality in the Empire State.

Freedom to Marry became a founding member of the New Yorkers United for Marriage coalition, which was put together by Governor Andrew Cuomo to forge a coherent strategy to build support for marriage equality in the state.

Freedom to Marry invested over $1,000,000 in the campaign, including more than $500,000 for television, newspaper ads, and direct mail, and over $100,000 in polling, all aimed at making sure legislators heard from the couples affected, their loved ones, and the 58% of New Yorkers who support the freedom to marry.

When the New York legislature finally passed the marriage equality bill in a historic vote on June 24, 2011, Wolfson issued the following statement: "With the freedom to marry in New York, the nationwide majority for marriage will swell, as even more people get to see why marriage matters to same-sex couples, that gay couples, like non-gay, treasure the chance to affirm and strengthen their commitment, and that ending marriage discrimination helps families and hurts no one."

He added: "We are especially grateful for Governor Cuomo's strategic and passionate leadership in advancing this bill. He worked tirelessly with Freedom to Marry and other advocates to secure the votes we needed to win. No governor has ever worked harder or more strategically to advance marriage legislation."

Wolfson and Dr. Cheng He were married in New York City on October 15, 2011. They have been a couple since 2002. In an interview with Nate Schweber ofthe New York Times for a feature story on their marriage, Wolfson said, "For me, getting married is not about making a political statement; it's about wanting to build a life together, wanting to have protections for one another, wanting to make a commitment in front of your family and friends, just like everyone else."

Linda Rapp

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social sciences >> Overview:  Same-Sex Marriage

Lesbian and gay couples have been fighting for the freedom to marry since the dawn of the modern glbtq struggle for equality; despite some success abroad, progress toward same-sex marriage in the United States has been slow.

social sciences >> Overview:  Sodomy Laws and Sodomy Law Reform

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social sciences >> ACLU LGBT & AIDS Project

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social sciences >> Bonauto, Mary

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social sciences >> Boswell, John

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social sciences >> Bowers v. Hardwick / Lawrence v. Texas

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social sciences >> Boy Scouts of America

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social sciences >> Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) authorizes states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages or domestic partnerships or civil unions and it requires that federal bureaus and agencies recognize only opposite-sex marriages.

social sciences >> Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)

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social sciences >> Griffin, Chad

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social sciences >> Hughes, Chris (b. 1983), and Sean Eldridge (b. 1986)

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social sciences >> National Center for Lesbian Rights

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social sciences >> Proposition 8 (California)

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social sciences >> Romero, Anthony

In 2001, Anthony D. Romero became the first Latino and first openly gay man to lead the American Civil Liberties Union, the nation's leading public interest law firm.


Biskupic, Joan, and John E. Yang. "Gay Marriage Is Allowed by Hawaii Court; Trial Judge Says Ban Fails Key Test under State Constitution." Washington Post (December 4, 1996): A1.

Finn, Robin. "Married to the Cause, One State at a Time." New York Times (February 16, 2007): B2.

Freedom to Marry:

Johnson, L. A. "With New Book, Squirrel Hill Native Continues Fight for Same-Sex Marriage." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (July 26, 2004): D1.

Mauro, Tony. "The Wedding Ring Leader." The American Lawyer 26.6 (June 2004): 94-97.

Schweber, Nate. "Evan Wolfson and Cheng He." New York Times (October 23, 2011):

Somashekar, Sandhya. "In Prop 8 Ruling, Both Sides See a Chance to Retrench." Washington Post (August 6, 2010): A4.

Warnick, Mark S. "The Right to Marry; Allerdice High School Graduate Is Leading the Way in the Battle to Win Legal Recognition for Same-Sex Marriage." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (March 11, 1997): F1.

Wolfson, Evan. Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People's Right to Marry. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004.


    Citation Information
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Wolfson, Evan  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2010  
    Date Last Updated October 23, 2011  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2010 glbtq, Inc.  


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