Jon Wiener teaches US history at UC Irvine.
Dan Savage started the “It Gets Better” project in 2010, with a short video online addressed to gay, lesbian, bi and transgender young people facing harassment, letting them know that, yes, it gets better. Today more than 50,000 people have posted videos at ItGetsBetter.org, which have been viewed more than 50 million times. He’s also a best-selling author whose new book is American Savage. He lives in Seattle with his husband, Terry, and their 15-year-old son, D.J.
Jon Wiener: How did you feel when you first heard the news that the Supreme Court had overruled DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act that had defined marriage as limited to two people of the opposite sex?
I’m morbid, so my first thought was ‘I can die now.’
Dan Savage: You didn’t think “now we can live happily ever after”?
For fifteen years my husband Terry has been a stay-home parent. I’m the sole source of support for my family. I have had this burden on my shoulders: if something should happen to me—if a plane I was on crashed, or some of these people who send me death threats made good on that threat, Terry wouldn’t get my social security survivor benefits, which he would if he was a woman; he would pay a crushing tax burden; he would lose the house. Terry and D.J. would be made to suffer.