Sunday’s New York Times magazine offers the first excerpt from Times reporter Jo Becker’s “Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality,” which hits bookstores on Tuesday. For four years, Becker was embedded with the team who worked to overturn California’s Prop 8 and provided nearly unlimited access.
I haven’t seen an advance of the book, but based on this excerpt and the years it covers, Hope native Chad Griffin is bound to be one of the heroes. With director Rob Reiner, Griffin co-founded American Foundation for Equal Rights and put together the unlikely legal team of Theodore Olson and David Boies to head the challenge of Prop 8. In 2012, Griffin became head of the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest gay rights group, and has since led scores of successful marriage equality iniatives.
The excerpt in the Times magazine focuses on Griffin’s role in moving President Obama to publicly support same sex marriage and, later, pressing the administration to file a brief in the Prop 8 case. Here’s Griffin two weeks before Vice President Joe Biden appeared on “Meet the Press” and gave a similar answer that, at least in part, prompted Obama:
On April 19, 2012, Chad Griffin was at the Los Angeles home of Michael Lombardo, an HBO executive, and his husband, Sonny Ward, an architect, waiting for the guest of honor to arrive. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was scheduled to meet a group of prominent gay Democrats whom Griffin had helped gather at the request of the Obama campaign.
Mehlman’s exchange with Plouffe had briefly raised Griffin’s hopes that the president would embrace the same-sex marriage cause. But now, with the election looming and nothing to indicate that Obama was willing to heed the advice, he had all but given up on the White House.
Griffin considered asking Biden about the administration’s position on the issue but decided not to bother — he already knew the answer. But as he watched the hosts’ two children, ages 5 and 7, press flowers and a note into Biden’s hand, he changed his mind. They were in the home of two married men and their family. The Obama campaign wanted the support of the gay people in this room. The vice president should have to answer to them. When it was Griffin’s turn to speak, he said: “When you came in tonight, you met Michael and Sonny and their two beautiful kids. And I wonder if you can just sort of talk in a frank, honest way about your own personal views as it relates to equality, but specifically as it relates to marriage equality.”