Chapter 7: There’s No Marriage Without Engagement

Banning marriage in California wasn’t just a political ploy for Senator Pete Knight. It was personal.

His brother had died from AIDS-related illness. His son David had come out of the closet in 1996. 

“I don’t know how these things happen,” Pete Knight told a reporter who asked about his family. “I don’t know how it happened to my brother, and I don’t know how it happened to David. I don’t know how you explain it.”

And so he put fourteen words before voters: “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

At the time, there was virtually no state leadership in California to stop him. But there were some scrappy grassroots organizers who could at least put up a fight: Mark Levine, who employed sly stagecraft in Los Angeles to give the appearance of a unified front. And in San Francisco, there was Molly McKay and Davina Kotulski, turning heads as they rode down Market Street on a motorcycle in full wedding garb.

They may not have been able to marry yet. But they were ready to get engaged — not just with a person, but with a movement.

Parisian Kevin MacLeod ( 
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