Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Gay marriage history on PBS by Marc Solomon still omitting Jack Baker and Michael McConnell

Marc Solomon on PBS TV program 2016 talking about gay marriage activism

PHOTO: Host Douglas Blackmon of the TV show "American Forum" from The Miller Center, which claims it "is a nonpartisan institute," interviews one of the Freedom to Marry leaders, Marc Solomon, whose history of gay marriage activism is still omitting any mention of Jack Baker's first U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage in 1972. (The Miller Center is a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia that specializes in presidential scholarship, public policy, and political history.) See video "Winning Marriage: How Same-Sex Couples Took on the Politicians and Pundits -- and Won - American Forum guest Marc Solomon," Feb. 2, 2015, PBS World Channel Broadcast: Virginia, January 3, 2016, and PBS nationally January 6, 2016. This aired on my local PBS TV station under the title, "Miller Center's American Forum: From a Crime to a National Civil Right (Gay Marriage)" Oregon Public Broadcasting OPB KOAC TV channel 7.3 (Comcast cable channel 310) Feb. 27, 2016 7:00AM-7:30AM originally aired 1/03/16.

Books on gay marriage activism by Marc Solomon and Michael McConnell with Jack Baker

PHOTO: two books about the history of the fight for gay marriage by Marc Solomon, "Winning Marriage: The Inside Story of How Same-Sex Couples Took on the Politicians and Pundits--And Won," Foreedge 2014 (left) and the autobiography by Michael McConnell, with Jack Baker, as Told to Gail Langer Karwoski, "The Wedding Heard 'Round the World - America's First Gay Marriage," University of Minnesota Press, 2016, which chronicles Michael McConnell's marriage to Jack Baker, whose marriage activism led to the first U.S. Supreme Court decision on gay marriage in 1972. (See previous posts My notes on autobiography by Michael McConnell with Jack Baker gay marriage activism (2/14/16), Oregonian book review of new gay marriage history book (12/9/14) and Book by Michael McConnell on his marriage to Jack Baker that led to the first Supreme Court case on gay marriage (12/29/15))

I went to Marc Solomon's Freedom to Marry Website and noticed that for some unstated reason, its history page "How it happened" accessed Nar, 1, 2016 says, "Chapter 1: Pioneering the Marriage Movement 'The Early Years (1970s-1983)' Richard Baker and James Michael McConnell were among the early pioneers who sought the freedom to marry in court in the 1970s and 1980s." It doesn't mention that Jack Baker is the name he goes by normally. (Note: Jack's given name, Richard, and Jack's full name -- Richard John Baker, is documented in p. 31 of McConnell's autobiography shown in the photo above.) I've noticed that in every interview of Marc Solomon he always mentions Hawaii (1993-1996) as being the start of the gay marriage movement just before he started working at Freedom to Marry. For example, in the above PBS TV interview, Host Douglas Blackmon carefully summarizes the history of the 1969 Stonewall riots, but doesn't mention the "Baker v. Nelson" U.S. Supreme Court ruling, and then he asks Marc when did the gay marriage movement began. Marc replied, "So I'd say the beginning of the fight for marriage in earnest was in Hawaii in the mid 1990s when same-sex couples filed a suit and they won for the first time. They won in, you know the Supreme Court said that they applied heightened scrutiny, it went back to a trial, then we won in a trial. Now that was knocked out ah to a constitutional amendment in Hawaii and then the results of that was Congress passing the so called Defense of Marriage Act which overwhelmingly was signed into law by President Clinton. . . . I got involved in the early 2000s in Massachusetts and that was the first court case where we prevailed and same-sex couples were able to marry. But back then I remember so clearly the day that we won."

Some other of the questions and Marc's answers during the above PBS TV interview are quoted below:

"IBlackmon: So we've now passed through this tremendous change, tremendous legal change, a of what seems to be a giant shift in the opinion of rank and file Americans something like 65 percent right? Americans are supportive in one way or another of gay marriage, equal marriage. A host of political figures like the ones I was just naming except Governor Romney have changed dramatically their position in terms of equal marriage. But if that wasn't the result of simply the evolution of American values toward this more progressive or inclusive sense of things, if that's not what this was, what was it?

Solomon: It was a social movement. It was the result of you know 15 years is one way to count it. Some say 30 plus years of telling our stories, organizing, sharing who we were with the ultimate goal of getting the Supreme Court to rule our way, but I can promise you if we had gone to the Supreme Court ten years ago or five years ago they would not have ruled this way. The Constitution hasn't changed. So it's really what people's understanding of who gay and lesbian people are, and why gay and lesbian people want to marry that has changed."

(Quoted from "Winning Marriage: How Same-Sex Couples Took on the Politicians and Pundits-and Won - American Forum, guest Marc Solomon," Feb. 2, 2015 PBS World Channel Broadcast: Virginia-January 3, 2016/Nationally-January 6, 2016)

The host's questions and comments, perhaps unintentionally, were worded similar to the language of right-wing anti-gay demagogues, such as their propaganda that gay marriage happened "so fast," which makes it seem like a "civil right" was obtained only through political trickery instead of because it was finally recognized as being an equal application of law to every citizen. Of course, it is easy to say it happened fast when the history you give ignores the 1972 "Baker v. Nelson" decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on gay marriage and it also ignores the fact that over half a century ago the homophile activist W. Dorr Legg was publishing academic articles discussing "homosexual marriage" and its implications that it might hinder sexual freedom like it did for heterosexual couples. (See previous posts Supreme Court on Jack Baker's gay marriage case 42 years later (3/26/13) and Supreme Court gay marriage decision vindicates Jack Baker and W. Dorr Legg 50 years later (6/27/13) )

Also see previous posts and links: