Andrew Marin was born in 1980, to parents Beth and Peter Marin. The family lived in what Andrew described as "a very white, very conservative upper middle class suburb of Chicago." Marin's parents are Pentecostal Christians, the family attended church services with the Assemblies of God.
Marin attended Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora, Illinois. Marin (then known as Andy) was involved in team sports, playing on his high school's baseball and hockey teams. In a 2010 interview, Marin described himself, in his youth as being "the biggest Bible-banging homophobic kid you ever met." He graduated in 1999.
Marin attended the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) on a Division I athletic scholarship, where he played baseball for the UIC Flames. Marin studied Applied Psychology. In the summer of 2001, after his sophomore year, Marin moved to the predominantly LGBT Boystown neighborhood in Chicago.
While in college, Marin was named the NIDRR Scholar through the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), for the summer semester in 2002, where he conducted research through UIC's Department of Disability and Human Development. In 2003, Marin received his college's Chancellor's Student Service & Leadership Award. Marin received his BA in Applied Psychology from UIC in 2003.
In 2005, Marin founded The Marin Foundation.
In 2011, Marin graduated from Eastern University with a master's degree in Urban Studies, with a concentration in Social Change.
In 2013, Marin began working on his PhD in Divinity from the University of St. Andrews.
Marin states that in the year 2000, the summer after his freshman year in college, his three best friends all came out to him, and that these experiences affected him so deeply that he was moved to create The Marin Foundation (in 2005).
The Marin Foundation is most well known for their I'm Sorry campaign, where their LGBT and straight members attend gay pride parades, and hold up signs apologizing for how Christians have treated LGBT people. A photo of one of these demonstrations in 2010, labeled "Christians Hugging a Gay Man in his Underwear" went viral and, according to The Marin Foundation's website, was shared "over 34 million" times and viewed "over 116 million" times. In 2012 on Buzzfeed, the photo was the top-listed photo in a collection of "Pictures that will restore your faith in humanity". In 2014 CNN called The Marin Foundation's I'm Sorry Campaign a "joy" to see the group "blocking hate speech with signs of love."
Besides the I'm Sorry Campaign, The Marin Foundation holds public gatherings in a series called Living in the Tension. They meet twice monthly in Chicago. The Marin Foundation has made appearances on major conservative media outlets such as the 700 Club, and on LGBT outlets such as The Gay Agenda Show. The BBC World News featured The Marin Foundation's gatherings held at a popular gay bar in Boystown, in print and on a 30-minute World News special; calling Marin's work a model of hope for the future.
When asked, Marin has always refused to answer the question of whether he believes that homosexuality is immoral, citing an interest in promoting dialogue with both sides of the culture war. Marin justifies this through his belief that "sustainable social change cannot happen unless both sides are an active participant in the reconciliation process." The reaction from LGBT community members and religious conservatives has been disapproving.
In October 2006 Marin came under scrutiny from LGBT activist and author Michelangelo Signorile in the LGBT interest magazine The Advocate, for purportedly misrepresenting his beliefs about LGBT people to various LGBT organizations. The Marin Foundation had previously claimed endorsement from such organizations as the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, and the Gay Men's Health Crisis, but The Marin Foundation no longer claims affiliation with any LGBT organizations on its website (though The Marin Foundation claims no affiliation with any entity on its website, whether LGBT or conservatism). Though in 2011 The Marin Foundation was featured on the official blog of GLAAD, written by GLAAD Director of Programs, Global and US South, regarding Andrew Marin's social media post urging Christians, particularly evangelicals, to show solidarity with the LGBT community by participating in Spirit Day by wearing the color purple. Then in January 2013 GLAAD Director of Religion, Faith and Values wrote a piece in the Huffington Post including Marin on the list of potential nominations to pray for America at President Obama's second Inauguration. A few months later in an April 2013 review, syndicated advice columnist and LGBT activist Dan Savage referred to The Marin Foundation as "sneakily homophobic". Marin responded to Dan Savage's statements in a blog post, citing supportive comments from various people, including LGBT people. This prompted responses from various other bloggers.
In the same Signorile October 2006 interview above in The Advocate, two women named Emily Webster and Melissa Garvey identified themselves as two of the "friends" to whom Marin had referred, in his story. Webster and Garvey stated that Marin, without their knowledge or permission, had posted the women's full names and photos on his website, publicly identifying the two women as gay. Garvey asserted (and Webster agreed) that Marin had outed the two women for his own purposes. Marin later removed the photos, but left a description of how "Emily and Melissa" had come out to him, and how these experiences had marked a turning point for him. In the interview, Emily Webster and Melissa Garvey asserted that neither of them had ever come out to Marin, and that the entire story was a fabrication. In April 2008 investigative gay blogger David Roberts of the LGBT activist website Ex-Gay Watch made contact with Marin via email, and Webster and Garvey via Facebook, to verify who was telling the truth. Both of Webster and Garvey responded to Roberts with no comment. This led Roberts to be skeptic of Webster and Garvey's claim the story was fabricated by Marin. Roberts later interviewed Marin on an Ex-Gay Watch podcast.
In July 2014 the same LGBT interest magazine The Advocate published an article, written by bisexual Christian Eliel Cruz, about the important work of The Marin Foundation and its I'm Sorry Campaign, after Cruz personally attended and documented his experience with The Marin Foundation in June 2014 in Chicago.
Marin's book Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community (InterVarsity Press, 2009), won the following awards:Outreach Magazine - Resource of the Year Award: Culture Category (2010)
Leadership Journal - Golden Canon Leadership Book (2010)
Relevant Magazine - Top 20 Best Overall Books (2009)
Englewood Review of Books - Top 20 Best Overall Books (2009)
Christian Manifesto - Lime Award for Top 10 Best Nonfiction Books (2009)
Besides the Bible named Love Is an Orientation as one of the "One Hundred Books of All Time that Have, Should or Will Create Christian Culture".
In 2014 Marin was named by the publication FAITH as one of the '25 Most Influential Christians for the Next 25 Years'