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Molly McKay and Davina Kotulski marriage scrapbooks

Identifier: Coll2013-029

Scope and Content

This collection consists of portable document format (PDFs) of the pages of the 22 scrapbooks assembled by Molly McKay over the course of McKay and Davina Kotulski's joint and individual efforts to attain marriage equality in California from 1998-2012. The scrapbooks consist of personal and organizational e-mail correspondence and letters exchanged between the pair, among their organizers’ circle, and within the organizations each was involved in, primarily Equality California and Marriage Equality USA. They also document demographical data and organizing tips that were compiled or accessed by the couple or by their colleagues to formulate arguments for marriage equality. The scrapbooks also contain clippings, either by or about the couple, their fellow activists, or about marriage equality in California, as well as photographs from events and private gatherings. They also have brochures for the organizations McKay and Kotulski were involved in, event programs and flyers, speeches and their drafts, and rallying chants and songs.


  • 1998-2012


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the ONE Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at USC Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.


Davina S. Kotulski, Ph.D., and Molly B. McKay, J.D., met in a country-and-western bar in 1996. They decided to get married in 1998 before family and friends, setting the date for September of that year. In June 1998, Kotulski, a clinical psychologist, and McKay, an attorney, participated in the San Francisco Pride Parade, fully clad in wedding attire, which they would continue to don in many civil actions to come. They ended up on the front page of the following day’s edition of the San Francisco Examiner and would be featured on news outlets worldwide in the following fourteen years they spent together. Although both had been marriage equality activists since 1996, this feature marked the beginning of the pair’s role as a “poster couple” for the fight for marriage equality in California in the 2000s.

The couple became domestic partners on April 1, 2000, as soon as the California registry began. In 2001, they went to the San Francisco City Hall around Valentine’s Day to request a marriage license. After being denied the next two years, they returned on February 12, 2004, expecting to be turned away once more. However,they were surprised to learn Mayor Gavin Newsom had authorized issuance of marriage licences to same-sex couples earlier that day. The couple became the seventeenth same-sex couple to be married on what came to be known as Freedom to Marry Day. That same year, Kotulski published her first book posing arguments for marriage equality, Why You Should Give a Damn About Gay Marriage. These arguments would be used by California marriage equality activists when Newsom’s decision was challenged and lost. However, the San Francisco Superior Court later ruled that the state’s marriage laws were unconstitutional. This began a legal battle of court cases, legislation, and propositions in California. Kotulski and McKay were active field organizers at the time, as well as organizationally involved with Marriage Equality USA and Equality California, respectively.

On May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that barring same-sex couples from marriage was unconstitutional. Shortly thereafter, marriage equality opponents introduced a ballot initiative to amend the California Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Kotulski and McKay participated in a heated campaign against the California Marriage Protection Act, or Proposition 8. The couple also married for the third time on their tenth anniversary on September 1, 2008, although their marriage was recognized only in California. In November, California voters passed Proposition 8. Three challenges filed the next day with the California Supreme Court. The court upheld the proposition in May 2009, but in February 2012, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned it, ruling the proposition unconstitutional. McKay and Kotulski continued their activism, through Marriage Equality USA and other partnerships. After publishing her second book in 2011, Love Warriors: The Rise of the Marriage Equality Movement and Why it Will Prevail, Kotulski became a nationally known speaker and workshop leader for same-sex marriage rights. McKay continued as Media Director for Marriage Equality USA and also contributed to amicus curiae briefs for marriage equality cases. The pair continued to participate in civil actions for marriage equality, including the right to protections like community property and health care benefits through divorce.

As of March 2013, both Kotulski and McKay continue to be committed to equality for LGBT people and their families globally and continue to advocate for the end of all inequality and injustice against LGBT people and same sex couples.


461.9 Megabytes

Language of Materials



Scrapbooks assembled by Molly B. McKay documenting her and Davina S. Kotulski’s experience as the “poster couple” for marriage equality rights in California, 1998-2012. This collection consists of portable document formats (PDFs) of the pages of McKay’s 22 scrapbooks of clippings, correspondence, organizational materials, and photographs relevant to the couple’s activism.


The scrapbooks are arranged chronologically.


Deed of gift dated January 29, 2013.

Existence and Location of Originals

Molly McKay retains ownership of the physical marriage scrapbooks.

Related Materials

The physical scrapbooks have been donated to the Gay and Lesbian Center, San Francisco Public Library.

Molly McKay and Davina Kotulski marriage scrapbooks (GLC 96), Gay and Lesbian Center, San Francisco Public Library.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Sana Shuja, March 2013.

McKay and Kotulski requested some pages not be copied for the collection from scrapbooks numbers 6, 8, 15, and 20.


Finding aid to Molly McKay and Davina Kotulski Marriage Scrapbooks
Sana Shuja
© 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Repository Details

Part of the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, University of Southern California Repository

909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles California 90007 United States
(213) 821-2771