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Freedom to Marry records

Call Number: MS 2038
Scope and Contents
The Freedom to Marry records include incorporation documents, meeting minutes, grant applications, promotional material, correspondence, office memos, legal cases, briefs, amici curiae, administrative files, research files, polling files, websites, and audiovisual materials created by, about, and for Freedom to Marry, a bipartisan campaign, to attain marriage equality for same-sex couples in the United States. The organization’s records focus almost exclusively on this goal, and the few materials that do not are related to civil rights for the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, plus) community. Materials are dated from 1948 to 2016 with the bulk falling between 2003 and 2015, the years that the campaign was active. Material dated prior to 2000 is related to the organization either as historical context or research, or pertains specifically to Evan Wolfson’s (Freedom to Marry’s founder and president) career prior to the establishment of Freedom to Marry.

Evan Wolfson's professional papers (Series I) document Wolfson's career prior to the foundation of Freedom to Marry and include material from Wolfson’s time at Lambda Legal, including legal briefs relating to his casework. A bulk of these briefs relate to the case Boy Scouts of American and Monmouth Council, Boy Scouts of America v. James Dale. Wolfson’s professional papers document his wide breadth of research for his cases and his leadership within the organizations Lambda Legal and Freedom to Marry. Wolfson’s professional papers date from between approximately 1990-2009.

Administrative documents (Series II) detail the organization, activities, and history of Freedom to Marry. These, along with the annual reports, job descriptions and job search documents, the papers of Samiya Bashir, the communication director, and the papers of Thalia Zepatos, director of research and messaging, contain information on the day-to-day running of Freedom to Marry from its inception in 2003 to its culmination in 2015. Additionally, the website provides a significant understanding of the history, structure, and mission of Freedom to Marry.

These records also detail the marketing and financial strategies used by Freedom to Marry and their work with partner organizations. Financial records, such as regranting files and annual reports, demonstrate the partnerships between Freedom to Marry and other civil rights and equal marriage organizations, particularly the Human Rights Campaign, GLAD (GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders), GLAAD (once known as Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), Lambda Legal, and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). There is also a significant collection of press clippings, research files, and published material tracking the victories and losses of the marriage equality movement across the United States.

Audiovisual materials (Series VII) consist primarily of television publicity that advocates for marriage equality, or programming produced for or about Freedom to Marry promoting the campaign. Recordings of community events and town halls debating marriage equality are also included.
Language of Materials
Materials are in English.
Conditions Governing Access
The Freedom to Marry Records have three levels of access: open to researchers, open with permission from the donors, and closed until 2035.

Series I is closed to researchers until 2035.

Series II-VI have specific access details at the series level.

Series VII is comprised of original audiovisual material. Original audiovisual materials, as well as preservation and duplicating masters, may not be played. Researchers must consult use copies, or if none exist must pay for a use copy, which is retained by the repository. Researchers wishing to obtain an additional copy of non-commercially produced items for their personal use should consult the ordering reproductions information on the Manuscripts and Archives web site.

Series VIII is comprised of computer files and has specific access details at the series level.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright is retained by the creator(s) of this collection for unpublished works they have authored or otherwise produced. After the date when the creator ceases to exist or January 1, 2035, whichever comes first, copyright passes to Yale University. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Evan Wolfson, 2016.
The records are arranged in eight series: I. Evan Wolfson Files, 1948-2009. II. Administrative Records, 2005-2011. III. Development Files, 2003-2012. IV. Program Files, 1973-2016. V. Regrant Files, 2001-2009. VI. Director of Public Engagement and Director of Research and Messaging Files, 2005-2016. VII. Audiovisual Materials, 1986-2013. VIII. Computer Files, 2001-2016.
Circa 1948-2016
Majority of material found within 2003-2015
106.87 Linear Feet (535 boxes)
20 Gigabytes (1 website)
1.1 Terabytes (1 external hard drive)
Related Names
Freedom to Marry
Freedom to Marry
Wolfson, Evan, 1957-
Language of Materials