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Episode #29: Love Wins, A Buddhist Lawyer and the Fight for Marriage Equality

(Photo above by Jahnae Neal / Pexels)

Six years ago today, on June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ratified same-sex marriage, a monumental achievement after a more than 25-year battle across the country.

Recently, journalist Sasha Issenberg published a riveting, comprehensive history of that struggle, titled The Engagement: America’s Quarter Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage, tracing it back to 1990, when the political movement took off with a case in the Hawaii Supreme Court.

At that point, Issenberg explains, no significant gay rights group had endorsed marriage as an objective. But, in 1990, when three same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses in Honolulu and were denied, they turned to a lawyer named Dan Foley. Less than three years later, the Hawaii Supreme Court became the first court in the world to conclude that queer couples’ freedom to marry was a basic civil right. The rest is a fascinating and groundbreaking history of the national journey toward June 26, 2015.

Today we are speaking with that lawyer, Dan Foley, who practices SGI Nichiren Buddhism. He shares his journey through the case, and how Buddhism can you help you win, no matter what your fight is.

(You can also listen to Buddhability on AppleSpotify, or wherever you get podcasts.)

Cheat Sheet

3:20 Dan’s work as a lawyer and judge

6:13 When and why he started practicing Buddhism

9:25 A short history of the same-sex marriage case in Hawaii

17:01 The impact it had on the rest of the country

21:28 The role that chanting played in his work

26:17 Why he didn’t give up

30:46 The growth he had to go through along the way

37:00 How anyone can tap into their Buddhability and make a difference

38:27 How to summon compassion and respect in a system that is unjust

45:18 Advice to anyone struggling to believe they can make a real difference

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