Delving head first into social issues is old hat to Peter, Paul and Mary, whose popular and progressive folk music provided a running social commentary during the 1960s. The trio remained prolific activists throughout the decades, so it is of little suprise that the surviving members, Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey, would find themselves in the middle of the gay marriage debate that continues to rage in the United States.
The National Organization for Marriage — one of the leading anti-gay marriage groups in the United States — recently held scores of public rallies during their “Summer for Marriage” tour, inflaming homophobic sentiments across America. During their events, NOM blared Peter, Paul & Mary’s popular version of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land“, without the permission of the artists.
When Peter Yarrow was informed of this abuse by a participant of the Courage Campaign, he imediately took action. He and Noel Paul Stookey sent NOM a cease and desist letter, asking that they immediately stop using the song, since “the philosophy of the ‘National Organization of Marriage’ is directly contrary to the advocacy position Peter, Paul & Mary have held for decades.”
Progressive musicians are finding their songs paired with irreconcilable political campaigns with increased frequency in the United States. In recent years, artists such as Bruce Springsteen, David Byrne, Rush, Van Halen, John Melloncamp, Tom Petty and Sting have all demanded that Republican politicians stop using their music for political gain.