Jo Becker is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for the New York Times, who had previously done investigative work for the Washington Post. She is no historian and her book Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality displays considerable ignorance about the history of gay rights in general and the quest for marriage equality in particular.
She was embedded with the odd couple pair of litigators, former opponents in Bush v. Gore in which “originalist” Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia through away any semblance of fidelity to his supposed principles to ensure a Florida recount could not keep the Republican candidate with a minority of the popular vote from occupying the White House, Ted Olson and David Boies, the AFER (American Foundation for Equal Rights) team (that received six million dollars in fees, mostly from Hollywood sources).
As Dale Carpenter wrote, “If one were going to tell just the story of litigation for same-sex marriage, one might begin with Jack Baker and Mike McConnell, who challenged Minnesota’s exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage in the early 1970s. If, on the other hand, one were going to concentrate on successful litigation the story would surely include a discussion of the Hawaii case from the early 1990s, the Vermont case from the late 1990s, and of course the first actual victory in Massachusetts in 2003.” (http://www.sfgate.com/books/article/Forcing-the-Spring-by-Jo-Becker-5449467.php)
And though Ted Cruz is going around claiming that the Supreme Court overturned the will of the voters of California (in proposition 8 denying same-sex marriage to any more Californians than had already wed before Porposition 8 passed in 2008), the Supreme Court merely rejected the standing of the attempted appealers of the decision of a federal district court judge (Vaughn Walker) that had been largely upheld by the local (9th Cirtuit) court of appeals. The failure of the defenders of Prop 8 to provide any basis other than religious animosity was perhaps as impressive as the positive case Olson and Boies put on, Disticrt Chief Judge Walker ruled that the ban violated both due process and equal protection. The case that mandated federal recognition of marriages in states in which same-sex marriages were legal, that ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional was United States v. Edith Windsor (on which see the excellent New Yorker story about the plaintiff and lead attorney Roberta Kaplan is at www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/09/30/130930fa_fact_levy).
Becker was inside a team very good at publicity and was so spun by it as to abandon any skepticism about the importance of what became “her case” as well as that of the famous litigators who fed her material and access and are the heroes of her narrative. Her book chronicles a case that was important to Californians (of which there are many, it is the most populous state in the US), Perry v. Schwarzenegger (later Hollingsworth v. Perry), but the claims that there was nothing going on until AFER/Olson-Boies and that it was that litigation that brought federal recognition of same-sex marriage make Becker’s book something closer to the tendentious Randy Shilts AIDS melodrama And the Band Played On (which is similar to Becker’s book r in promoting straight heroes and ignoring gay/lesbian ones) than to Dale Carpenter’s gripping yet solidly historical Flagrant Conduct (about the case abolishing sodomy laws).
Becker’s role as publicist for AFER and its lawyers appalled many familiar with the actual history of same-sex-marriage advocacy. This was exacerbated by evidence in her own with/by her publisher, Penguin, and the Human Rights Campaign and AFER. As Andrew Sullivan reported: “HRC’s head, Chad Griffin, was integrally involved in the promotion of a book that describes him as the gay Rosa Parks on the first page. We also learned that Becker tried to get another much-praised source, San Francisco City Attorney, Dennis Herrera, to bulk purchase the book for sale and hold an event at San Francisco City Hall (http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/05/07/and-sometimes-there-is-a-smoking-gun-email/ ).