Geoff Kors

Civil rights activist

As exec director of Equality California, Geoff Kors helped lead the fight against Prop. 8, which eliminated the rights of same-sex couples to marry. His activism got an early start, at the movies. “I was young when I saw ‘I Want to Live’ with Susan Hayward. I wasn’t supposed to be watching TV so late,” he recalls.

Robert Wise’s 1958 film tells the true story of Barbara Graham, convicted of killing another woman and sent to the gas chamber. “I just remember how vivid that film was for me as a child, that kind of injustice. As a result, the death penalty was the first issue I felt passionately about. I was inspired by that film.”

Today, Kors believes that Gus Van Sant’s “Milk,” based on the life of gay activist Harvey Milk, will galvanize support against gay-marriage bans around the country. “The film is about activism and perseverance,” he says. “Milk lost the first two elections he ran and he sacrificed a lot. The film brilliantly explores the need to expand the base of people who support equality. Harvey Milk knew he was running on a whole bunch of social-justice issues. That’s important for moving forward.”

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