As the metaphorical cacophony of wedding bells ringing across the United States following the Supreme Court rulings begins to subside, organizations like Marriage Equality USA are stepping up to remind us there’s still work to be done.
So, they’re hosting the inaugural Marriage Equality USA Los Angeles Awards Reception on August 10th, bringing together LGBT community leaders, allies, industry and corporate giants, political players, and celebrities to raise funds and highlight those who have contributed to the equality movement thus far.
429 Magazine sat down with Marriage Equality USA’s Executive Director, Brian Silva, to discuss the event, the importance of inertia, and where the fight is heading next. Silva, a leader in the movement to pass marriage equality in New York, became Executive Director just last August.
429Mag: What are your thoughts on the trajectory of marriage equality?
Silva: I think everyone is really excited. The ruling last month was a tremendous boost to the movement, bringing full marriage equality to 13 states and DC.
But we also know there are 37 states where, when you visit there or if you live there, you’re treated as a second class citizen. So there’s still a lot of work to do. It’s not inevitable. It will only happen by getting involved, volunteering, and continuing to support the entire community.
429Mag: What’s the next big battle for Marriage Equality USA?
We’re continuing our campaigning in Illinois. New Jersey is going to be a big push in multiple ways to win there. Oregon has a ballot measure they’re looking to qualify. There are states like Hawaii and Nevada where there are court cases going on, including a legislative push in Hawaii next year.
There are still a few more years left for this fight, if we work hard. We need to continue to build support and a culture that doesn’t just legalize it, but celebrates and respects marriage equality.
Regarding red states, the southern and midwest areas, we’ll be refocusing on working with groups in those areas to bring support to marriage equality – so that when we do win in those states, those families come into not just legal recognition, but respect in their communities as well.
It’s just as important to shift our culture as it is to shift our laws.
429Magazine: How is the event coming together?
Brian Silva: Great. Whenever you start a new event, it’s very exciting. You get the opportunity to create the atmosphere, the honorees, the history; everything about it you get to choose and play with, and that’s been wonderful.
We have a team of local volunteers and board members and support that have been working to build this event, sell tickets, and get the word out. We couldn’t ask for better.
429Mag: What is the importance of events like the Marriage Equality USA Awards?
Silva: There’s a context of urgency to support this movement. Even though it feels like we’ve won in California, you go across the border and your rights have disappeared. There’s still something to be fighting for, and a cause worth giving to.
Because we’re a grassroots organization, small donations and support, whether it be from corporate sponsors or individuals, can really make a huge difference – because of our lean budget. The same kind of support doesn’t always impact larger organizations, so it’s a great way to have a really big impact on an organization with an efficient use of resources. More bang for your buck, so to speak.