×

Cynthia Nixon on Marriage Equality: We Have to Keep Organizing Like Our Lives Depend On It

Two-time Emmy-winner Cynthia Nixon has starred in “Sex and the City,” “Alpha House” and “Hannibal.”

When a TV show is “ground-breaking,” it doesn’t really create something new: It reflects something already happening in the population, but the culture hasn’t caught up with it. With “Sex and the City,” we were faced with the trope, “All women want to be married by the time they’re 25 and if not, they’re devastated.” That wasn’t true in the general population, but the culture hadn’t caught up with it until “Sex and the City.”

Similarly, LGBT characters aren’t new; everybody has LGBT people in their family. And everybody needs to make the effort to come out in any and every way they can. If people who are opposed to equality realized how many individuals they already like, admire or even love are LGBT, the battle would be over. It’s important to come out to our parents, children, co-workers, boss — you name it.

Some conservatives can be homophobic, but the moment their child is on the spectrum, they do a complete backflip: “That’s my kid, I’d better protect them.” Look at Dick Cheney and his daughter Mary; all the nonsense goes away.

Prop. 8 in California was so devastating, such a setback. Two years after that, my wife (Christine Marinoni) and I were in Washington state, where she’s from. We were lobbying to get gay marriage passed, and we talked to on-the-ground organizers. The insight was so illuminating. They said, “We made a bunch of mistakes in California.”

There were people who had wanted to stop gay equality, and they were lying low. But they showed up at the end of the campaign with lots of money and lots of misinformation; they ran ads on TV, and scared the hell out of everybody. They spread fear that your church choir will be required to dress in drag, and kindergartners will have to learn about gay sex at age 5. This organizer said, “Our first mistake was to say, ‘We’re not gonna stoop to respond.’ Now, in Washington state, when the opposition puts an ad on, we will respond directly within 24 hours.” He said, “In California, we tried to talk rationally. But fear is much more powerful than rationality. However, we discovered you can fight fear with love.” So in the Washington media, they sent out a message of love, not just gay-gay love, but straight-gay love. They showed straight siblings, cousins, friends, children and parents speaking about how important gay marriage was in their lives even though they were straight.

In one ad, a person said: “One of my sons is gay and one is straight, and they’re treated differently under the law. That’s painful for me and painful for them, and it’s just wrong.” They were able to open people’s eyes, and same-sex marriage was legally recognized in December 2012.

Of all the victories and defeats we’ve seen, nothing has been more inspiring than that victory in Ireland. That took everyone’s breath away.

Equality proponents knew they were going to win, but didn’t take it for granted for a moment; they worked, they organized, leaving no stone unturned. And to have the vote come from the general population was absolutely game-changing. The important thing to remember going forward, though, is no outcome is ever 100% assured. We have to keep organizing like our lives depend on it.

Popular on Variety

More Voices

  • Fleabag Succession Emmys

    Could 'Fleabag' and 'Succession' Be Spoilers on Emmy Night? (Column)

    At the onset, this year’s Emmy Awards felt a bit anticlimactic, as the final seasons of “Game of Thrones” and “Veep” appeared to have this year’s drama and comedy categories locked up before campaigning even began. But that’s how upsets happen: Just when we’re pretty confident about how things might go, a couple of wild [...]

  • Climate Mobilization

    Marshall Herskovitz: Why the Climate Crisis Needs Movie Marketing-Style Muscle

     I’ve lived inside the climate-communications conundrum for 20 years, working with scientists, academics and activists to find ways to convince Americans that something they couldn’t see or feel was nevertheless a looming catastrophe worth upending their lives to fight. Now the climate crisis is undeniable, and we are finally seeing the beginnings of concerted action. [...]

  • Renée Zellweger, Adam Driver Gain Oscar

    Telluride: Oscar Buzz Builds For Renée Zellweger, Adam Driver and 'The Two Popes'

    This year’s Telluride Film Festival began on Thursday with the Guest/Patron Brunch on a private estate about a 30-minute drive from the center of town. Eggs, bacon and fruit salad were being served as the sun was shining on Martin Scorsese, Adam Driver, Noah Baumbach, Laura Dern, Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Ken Burns, Ric Burns, [...]

  • Fernando Meirelles The Two Popes

    Telluride: Audience Laughs and Cries During 'The Two Popes' World Premiere

    Little did the audience at the world premiere of “The Two Popes” know that the papal two-hander is actually very funny. No, it’s not a comedy, but the jokes and ribbing between Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) and the future pope, Cardinal Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce), played well in the packed Chuck Jones’ Cinema, as did [...]

  • Renee Zwllweger in Judy

    Telluride: Renée Zellweger Will Return to the Oscars With 'Judy'

    The Oscars love actors playing alcoholic, drug-addicted singers. Last year, Rami Malek took home the big prize for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” beating out Bradley Cooper for his work as the fictional Jackson Maine in “A Star Is Born.” Over the years, we’ve seen Jamie Foxx win for “Ray,” Jeff Bridges [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content