October 6, 2015 at 10:37 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Evan Wolfson in Europe to discuss U.S. marriage fight

Evan Wolfson, gay news, Washington Blade

Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson will spend the next two weeks in Europe where he will meet with LGBT rights advocates, business leaders and government officials. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson will spend the next two weeks in Europe where he will meet with LGBT advocates, business leaders and government officials to discuss efforts to secure marriage rights for same-sex couples in the U.S.

Wolfson on Tuesday took part in a panel discussion in Zurich that the Swiss Rainbow Families Association, a local LGBT advocacy group, organized. The prominent same-sex marriage advocate is also scheduled to travel to Germany and Austria before returning to the U.S.

“It’s going to be a rich assortment of conversations,” Wolfson told the Washington Blade on Monday before he left the U.S.

Wolfson told the Blade officials with the U.S. Embassy in Vienna earlier this year invited him to “come over and meet some people, share ideas.” He said he decided to delay the trip because he had been awaiting the decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in the Obergefell case.

“I was too nervous to leave the country in June,” said Wolfson.

Switzerland, Germany and Austria are among the Western European countries in which same-sex couples lack full marriage rights.

Ireland in May became the first country in the world in which gays and lesbians received marriage rights through a referendum. The European Court of Human Rights two months later ruled unanimously that same-sex couples in Italy face human rights violations because the country has not “sufficiently” recognized them.

Wolfson told the Blade last month that Freedom to Marry remains “on track to shut down” in the coming months, despite Rowan County (Ky.) Clerk Kim Davis and officials in a handful of other states who have refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of their religious beliefs. He reiterated on Monday that he is “still focused on that work of winding down our campaign.”

“This is one very exciting opportunity to share those lessons and be of us,” said Wolfson, referring to his trip to Europe. “It makes me very proud that most of my career suing the U.S. government and now the U.S. government is where it needs to be.”

Wolfson earlier this year traveled to Colombia where he met with LGBT rights advocates.

The Colombian Constitutional Court in July held a hearing on the extension of marriage rights to same-sex couples in the South American country. Wolfson is among those who submitted testimony in support of the issue.

Wolfson also attended an LGBT rights conference in South Africa after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in the Obergefell case.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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