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December 05, 2014 03:05 PM UTC

"Winning Marriage"--Insight From America's Civil Rights Frontier

  • by: Colorado Pols


A press advisory Wednesday announced a book launch tour coming through Denver next week of interest to anyone who has followed the political sea change in the last couple of years on the issue of marriage equality:

Marc Solomon, the national campaign director for Freedom to Marry and veteran marriage strategist, continues his national tour in Denver to promote Winning Marriage: The Inside Story of How Same-Sex Couples Took on the Politicians and Pundits – and Won. The book, with a foreword by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, has received critical acclaim from Bob Woodward, Dee Dee Myers, and Sen. Tammy Baldwin. As a senior political strategist for the marriage movement for more than a decade, Solomon takes readers inside the White House, the Supreme Court, governors' offices and state capitols, as well as into the war rooms of marriage campaigns throughout the country, showing how the campaign for marriage equality has been waged and how it has prevailed.  Solomon chronicles the indispensable role of Tim Gill, as well as the Denver-based Gill Foundation and the Gill Action Fund, in bringing about the victories secured over the last decade.

You can attend this free event next Monday, December 8 at 6:30PM at the Museum of Contemporary Art-Denver. RSVP here.

As the issue of marriage equality for LGBT couples has come full circle from painful defeats to sweeping victory across America, the full story of the tremendous efforts to achieve this–both public and behind the scenes–hasn't really been told. Some recent books on the subject, like Jo Becker's Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality, were widely criticized for leaving out a number of principal figures in the long battle for marriage equality. Marc Solomon's book is meant in part to remedy that error for posterity, with a definitive first-hand insider account. Writing of Denver philanthropist Tim Gill's early commitment in Winning Marriage:

Thankfully, we had one donor, Tim Gill, who was in for the long haul, knew that losses were part of any social movement, and had cultivated a community of donors who invested in LGBT equality and looked to Tim for leadership. Gill, a Denver-based tech entrepreneur, had dedicated much of his time to the cause of equality after Colorado voters passed a horribly anti-gay statewide constitutional amendment in 1992. He sold his company and took a substantial portion of its profits–$250 million–to establish the Gill Foundation to invest in organizations working for LGBT equality. After the multiple losses at the ballot in 2004, he turned his attention to political giving, establishing the Gill Action Fund to back advocacy campaigns and candidates advancing our agenda and–as he liked to put it-"punish the wicked." He'd hired Patrick Guerriero, the gay former legislator and mayor from Massachusetts who had most recently run Log Cabin Republicans, to head up Gill Action.

Patrick, who had been helping us in Massachusetts for some time and who had become a trusted friend and mentor, called me very early on after the loss to tell me he and Tim Gill had my back and they were ready to help. We came up with a plan: Patrick would reach out to the advisers to several of the largest gay donors in the country–Jon Stryker, David Bohnett, Jim Hormel and others–and get them to Boston to listen to my pitch. And I would come up with a detailed plan and budget, get a few Massachusetts political leaders to meet with the assembled group, and pull together an event with MassEquality's major donors. I arranged for Governor Patrick to Come to our office for a meeting, and he did a great job of explaining his commitment to the fight and support for MassEquality's strategy to win. At the Massachusetts donor event, Patrick Guerriero spoke of Tim Gill's and his unflinching commitment to my leadership and to the fight in Massachusetts and asked them to redouble their investments.

By all accounts, the relatively recent shift in America from general public opposition to marriage equality to overwhelming public support today is the result of committed donors and activists who, in response to defeats in the previous decade, rebuilt the communications strategy on this issue from the ground up. By finding the right message to persuade ordinary Americans that marriage equality would neither devalue their own marriages nor harm society, patiently creating space for empathy instead of casual bigotry, one of the greatest victories for civil rights since the 1960s has finally been achieved.

Locals should take pride that one of the central institutions of this movement is right here in Colorado.


4 thoughts on ““Winning Marriage”–Insight From America’s Civil Rights Frontier

  1. The Gill Foundation gives to a lot of causes. He matched the Red Cross donations dollar for dollar after Katrina. I know because I did collections at State Dem Headquarters on the First Friday after the hurricane hit.I picked up almost 500 bucks and GF matched every cent. 

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