This week I talked with Brian Silva, Executive Director of Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA), which is the nation's oldest and largest grassroots organization working toward full civil marriage equality at the state and federal levels. Because the U.S. Supreme Court struck down California's Proposition 8 and Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June, legally married gay and lesbian couples will qualify for federal rights and protections this year. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia recognize marriage equality, and federal judges recently struck down bans on gay marriage in Oklahoma and Utah, though both states are taking a position on the wrong side of history by appealing the rulings, and Utah refuses to recognize the gay and lesbian marriages performed there following the federal judge's ruling.
I talked to Brian about marriage equality advances he would like to see happen for the LGBT community in 2014 and more. When asked about his personal commitment to LGBT civil rights, he stated:
As a gay man, I think it's very personal. It's fighting for my own equality and my own ability to live in a world where I'm treated no differently than anyone else, just with the same equality, the same protections and the same opportunities afforded to my straight friends and colleagues. For me it's extraordinarily personal, and I think for many people that are involved in LGBT equality work, it's extraordinarily personal, and that's why we do it. That's why we volunteer. That's why we get involved. That's why we do all these things to make a better world for ourselves and also make a better world for future generations of LGBT kids who are growing up.
Brian Silva's leadership has expanded MEUSA's grassroots education and advocacy work into communities across the United States. MEUSA has helped lead 12 field campaigns that brought marriage equality to nine additional states via the nationally recognized National Equality Action Team (NEAT) coalition. In addition, MEUSA co-led the United for Marriage Coalition events in Washington, D.C., and around the country for the Supreme Court hearings and "Decision Day" in the 2013 United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry cases. Silva has spoken and been published in numerous venues and received multiple awards for his work both in and outside LGBT equality.
For more information on Marriage Equality USA, visit marriageequality.org.
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