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Town Hall Seattle: Civics Series

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Aug 25, 2021

On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that state bans on gay marriage were unconstitutional, making same-sex unions legal across the United States. But the road to that momentous decision was much longer than many know. Author Sasha Issenberg introduced a definitive account in this presentation that discussed his book The Engagement: America’s Quarter-Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage, in conversation with CMBC Reporter Aditi Roy.

The story begins, Issenberg shared, in Hawaii in 1990, when a rivalry among local activists triggered a sequences of events that forced the state to justify excluding gay couples from marriage. Then in the White House, one president signed the Defense of Marriage Act, which elevated the matter to a national issue, and his successor tried to write it into the Constitution. Over 25 years, Issenberg told us, the debate played out across the country, from the first legal same-sex weddings in Massachusetts to the epic face-off over California’s Prop 8, and finally, to the landmark decisions of United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges. Across those 25 years, nearly every corner of American life was touched in some way by the debate. With insight from those who sought their own right to wed, those who fought to protect the “traditional” definition of marriage, and those who changed their minds about it, Issenberg invited us to a riveting story about a banner topic of the modern culture wars.

Sasha Issenberg is the author of three previous books, including The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns. He has covered presidential elections as a national political reporter in the Washington bureau of The Boston Globe, a columnist for Slate, and a contributor to Bloomberg Politics and Businessweek. He is the Washington correspondent at Monocle, and his work has also appeared in New York, The New York Times Magazine, and George, where he served as a contributing editor. He teaches in the political-science department at UCLA.

Aditi Roy is an Emmy-winning journalist who has spent two decades covering local, national and business news. In 2016, she joined CNBC’s San Francisco bureau, covering the California economy, the vaping/cannabis industry, the rise of alt-foods, and the Equifax breach. Roy left CNBC earlier this year to spend time with her daughters (ages 1 and 7) and pursue personal passion projects.

Buy the Book: The Engagement: America's Quarter-Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage (Hardcover)
Elliott Bay Books

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