Collins, David. “Accidental Activists: Mark Phariss, Vic Holmes, and Their Fight for Marriage Equality in Texas”, University of North Texas Press, 2017.
Winning Marriage Equality
In early 2013 the Supreme Court’s decision in “United States v. Windsor” appeared to open the door to marriage equality. In Texas, Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes who were then together for sixteen years wondered why no one had yet challenged the state’s 2005 constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage in the state of Texas. They agreed to join a lawsuit being put together by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLD.
It took two years and tense legal battles in the Federal District Court for the Western District of Texas and in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, oral arguments at the Supreme Court of the United States in “Obergefell v. Hodges” for the two men to win the right to marry in Texas. “Accidental Activists” is their story.
Author David Collins tells Mark and Vic’s story in the context of legal and social history and explains the complex legal issues and developments surrounding same-sex marriage in terms that all of us can clearly understand. Throughout the LGBTQ rights movement, we have seen “accidental activists” come to the fore.
Collins has wonderfully captured the two men’s lifelong struggles with shame and self-loathing and their personal triumph of facing the public “to claim their right to love in the country they love.”—
“Accidental Activists” tells the story of two men who wanted to live their lives together as married men. We read of the pains of growing up gay, the humiliation and embarrassment of the closet, the courage to use the inner strength necessary to come out, falling in love, and the refusal live as second-class citizens.
While this is a book about changing the law in Texas, it is also a look at overall struggle for marriage equality how it was won nationwide. It also shows that the Texas challengers were attempting only to have American society treat them as it treats all other couples, to allow them to live the same lives, with the same respect and dignity like all other citizens. And yes, it is a personal look at the lives, love and experiences of Vic and Mark. Collins shares the smallest details from Vic and Mark’s lives as they struggle through the fight.