For nine years, Berkeley Haas staffer Kirsten Berzon volunteered for Marriage Equality USA, a large grassroots organization that, from 1996 to late 2017, worked to win equal marriage rights and protections for LGBTQ couples and their families nationwide.
“Our mission was to change hearts and minds by talking to people, one conversation at a time, about why marriage mattered,” says Berzon, who served on the group’s board of directors, in an interview with Berkeley Haas writer Kim Girard.
Berzon, who is associate director of events and experiential learning for the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program, talks about growing up in Berkeley and Oakland in a family dedicated to social justice, coming out as a lesbian in college and the joy of marching in the San Francisco Pride Parade with her mother in the PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) contingent.
She also reflects on the roller coaster ride that began May 15, 2008, when the California Supreme Court granted marriage rights to same-sex couples, her own marriage that same year, the elimination in November 2008 of those same marriage rights in California with the passage of Proposition 8 and, in 2015, the eventual U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down all same-sex marriage bans.
Today, “I’m incredibly nervous,” says Berzon of our nation’s political environment, adding that ” … there are so many LGBT civil rights battles left to be won.”