Mark Levine was one of the pioneers of the Marriage Equality Movement. In the late 1990’s when Mark and three others founded Marriage Equality California, Mark went up against the entire LGBT establishment. Even elected gay and lesbian officials opposed marriage equality when Mark’s rag-tag band began the first Valentine’s Day Protests in 2000 that would later sweep the country. He barnstormed across Southern California to oppose Proposition 22. In February 2001, Mark wrote the first bill in the entire nation to give full equality to gay and lesbian couples at both the state and federal levels. This was considered so “aggressively progressive” at the time that the Lambda Legal Defense Fund opposed it because at the time gay and lesbian couples could not get married anywhere in the world.
Soon after, in 2001, Mark moved to Alexandria and brought marriage equality to this region. Mark crafted the DC Marriage Equality legislation with Councilman Phil Mendelson. Mark defended the legislation pro bono in court as counsel for the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club when the right-wing tried to bring the legislation to a popular vote. Mark received the Gay Lesbian Activist Alliance’s Distinguished Service Award for his work on marriage equality in DC.
Mark was fighting for marriage equality before it became politically popular. He was there before President Clinton and other national politicians. Mark was pushing for marriage equality before even the LGBT community as a whole signed on to the idea.
But then again, that’s what pioneers like Mark do. They don’t fight on established turf. They make their own turf and win there. Other people see “impossible” issues and say, “Why try?” Mark takes on impossible issues because he knows the only sure way to fail is by not trying. And on marriage equality, the efforts of Mark Levine and a handful of his fellow early pioneers have paved the way for others to stand up for this basic right.
It’s easy to be for marriage equality now. But it’s highly unlikely that any of the other candidates in the 8th District race were even supporting marriage equality in the 1990’s, much less leading the nationwide effort as Mark was.
For more information on Mark Levine and his campaign for the Democratic nomination in the 8th Congressional District, visit http://www.levineforcongress.com