Early Review*: We Do! American Leaders Who Believe in Marriage Equality, Edited by Jennifer Baumgardner and Governor Madeleine M. Kunin

First off, let me put my cards on the table: I’m a member of the LBGTQ community, and I support equal rights for LGBTQ persons. Period.We Do!

We Do! doesn’t offer the jazziest format or a comprehensive tour through queer history, but it’s an excellent resource for speeches and essays relating to the LGBTQ-rights movement. As you might expect, Harvey Milk’s “Hope” speech is the first to appear, and you’ll also find testimony from well-known political figures, up to and including President Obama.

Glaring omissions on this front: Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Senator Mark Kirk (R-Illinois).  Senator Murkowki’s press release on her change of heart (June 2013) especially merits inclusion. (Senator Rob Portman [R-Ohio] made the cut.) Marriage equality is coming, and the longer Republicans hold out, the worse they’ll look, and I’m sure Democrats will gleefully bash them for it. However, ending discrimination against LGBTQ persons should trump party hostility, and the more moderate (or even conservative; see Cheney, Dick) GOP politicians come forward to support LGBTQ rights, the better, especially since they face animus from the right flank of their own party.

But enough of politics (hasn’t it been a great two weeks here . . . UGH) Some high points of the book:

  • Transcriptions of speeches by Virgina Apuzzo and David Mixner: rousing, tragic, fundamental.
  • Andrew Sullivan’s prescience on the conservative case for gay marriage. He was way out front in 1989.
  • Personal testimony from LGBTQ legislators like Representative Bill Lippert.

I see this book as part of a growing awareness (in America) of LGBTQ history, which is *such* a positive development. Not everyone will run out to their bookstore to buy Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked a Revolution (though I wish it were so!), but a book like We Do! could be a gateway to more reading about the struggles the LGBTQ community has faced in this and past centuries.

Speaking of LGBT history, if you’re looking for another way to learn more, I suggest trying the Quist (Queer History smushed together) app for your phone. Daily tidbits of LGBTQ history, and it’s free. Full disclosure: My sister-in-law, Sarah Prager, created the app and owns it, and I (your humble blogger) edited it before its release.

We Do! American Leaders Who Believe in Marriage Equality will hit the shelves on Tuesday (October 15).

*I received this ARC through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program in exchange for an honest review.