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Queer Inclusions, Continental Divisions

Queer Inclusions, Continental Divisions: Public Recognition of Sexual Diversity in Canada and the United States

Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 440
  • Book Info
    Queer Inclusions, Continental Divisions
    Book Description:

    No area of public policy and law has seen more change than lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and trans-gender rights, and none so greatly needs careful comparative analysis.Queer Inclusions, Continental Divisionsexplores the politics of sexual diversity in Canada and the United States by analyzing three contentious areas - relationship recognition, parenting, and schooling. It enters into long-standing debates over Canadian-American contrasts while paying close attention to regional differences.

    David Rayside's examination of change over time in the public recognition of sexual minorities is based on his long experience with the analysis of trends, as well as on a wide-ranging search of media, legal, and social science accounts of developments across Canada and the United States. Rayside points to a 'take off' pattern in Canadian policy change on relationship recognition and parenting, but not in schooling. At the same time, he explores the reasons for a 'pioneering' pattern in early gains by American LGBT activists, a surprising number of court wins by American lesbian and gay parents, and changes in American schooling that, while still modest, are more substantial than those instituted by the Canadian system.

    Queer Inclusions, Continental Divisionsis a timely examination of controversial policy areas in North America and a reasoned judgment on the progress of lesbian and gay issues in our time.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8889-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. 1 Publicly Recognizing Queer Families
    (pp. 3-18)

    By the middle of the first decade of the twenty-first century, Canadian lesbian and gay couples could marry. In 2003, the first marriages in the world without explicit discriminatory limitations were being performed in the country’s three largest provinces.¹ Canada was now ‘cool’ enough to be featured on the cover of theEconomist, and it was not because of successful deficit fighting! At the same time, constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriage were sweeping across the United States, most of them with wording that extended far beyond marriage, threatening to bar any public recognition of same-sex family rights.

    In both countries,...

  6. 2 Activist Contexts
    (pp. 19-59)

    There is no country in the world where activists have been able to mobilize support for the public recognition of sexual diversity as widely, intensely, or continuously as in the United States. Yet they operate in a context that creates formidable challenges for them, far greater than those faced by their much smaller and more irregularly mobilized counterparts in Canada and in those parts of Europe where most gains have been secured. This fact affects the issue areas – and regions of the country – in which they are most likely to make gains. It also shapes the organizational structures and the...

  7. 3 Broadening Activist Agendas
    (pp. 60-91)

    From the late 1980s on, challenges to heterosexual assumptions about family and the education of children multiplied in both the United States and Canada. This expansion was risky, because the pressure for change confronted complex policy frameworks and deep-set beliefs about what family meant. Advocates for change also met internal resistance from activists who had cut their teeth on systematic critiques of the whole idea of family. On the other hand, activist questioning of what counted as a relationship, who could be publicly recognized as a parent, what freedom children had to develop their sexuality, and what schools taught, could...

  8. 4 Canadian Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships
    (pp. 92-125)

    When marriage was opened up to lesbian and gay couples in Canada, starting in 2003, the public recognition of same-sex relationships had already taken off. By the late 1990s, courts had made it extremely difficult to exclude such relationships from the wide range of rights and obligations already granted to de facto straight couples. At the end of 2006, Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper reacted to the defeat of a parliamentary motion calling for the reopening of the gay marriage issue by saying his government would not revisit the matter. Changes have occurred not only in public policy and law...

  9. 5 American Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships
    (pp. 126-166)

    The movement to recognize same-sex relationships became highly visible in the United States at about the same time as it did in Canada, and even earlier in some locales. By any international comparison, the activist resources marshalled for the struggle were substantial, and pioneering victories were won. In the mid-1980s, progressive municipalities like Berkeley, California, were beginning to recognize same-sex relationships of their own employees, and in the early 1990s private employers were starting to do the same. Activism within a range of Protestant denominations was urging the blessing of gay and lesbian unions as early as, or earlier than,...

  10. 6 Parenting in Canada
    (pp. 167-191)

    In 1995 British Columbia became the first regional or national jurisdiction in North America, and probably the world, where adoption rights were extended to lesbian and gay couples. Only one year earlier, a legislative measure designed to recognize same-sex couples in Ontario, introduced by a social democratic government, had been defeated – many said because it included adoption rights. Acknowledging rights and responsibilities for same-sex couples was one thing – still controversial to be sure – but bringing children into the picture engendered much more fear.

    Over the next decade, northern European governments continued to exclude parental rights from civil union regimes. The...

  11. 7 Parenting in the United States
    (pp. 192-220)

    One might think that the recognition of lesbians and gays as parents would lag behind other forms of relationship recognition, and that the gap between Canada and the United States would be significant. Public fears about what would happen to children in such cases persist, and religious conservatives have never flagged in their readiness to mobilize around the image of vulnerable youth. Anxiety about the strength of family life and shifting morality is high in the United States, and as both Sean Cahill and Valerie Lehr argue forcibly, opponents of gay and lesbian parenthood continue to make persistently politicized claims...

  12. 8 Canadian School Lethargy
    (pp. 221-247)

    The ‘take-off’ pattern displayed in changes to relationship and parenting policies during the 1990s and early 2000s might anticipate widespread change in Canada’s public schools. But it does not. Until recently, the activist challenge on schools issues in most of the country has been strikingly modest, and so has the response of educators and officials.¹ The stark truth is that, with only one important exception, Canadian school boards and provincial education ministries took almost no significant steps in developing policies and practices accepting of differences in sexual orientation and gender identity until the end of the 1990s. At the provincial...

  13. 9 School Reform and the American Culture Wars
    (pp. 248-281)

    Conservative commentators regularly portray American public schools as targeted and influenced by homosexual activists. Sex education in schools, they claim, has been infused with messages that being gay is okay, and student clubs glorifying the lifestyle are proliferating. The triumph of ‘secular humanism’ has effectively given homosexuals access to school children. More reasoned analysis leads to a quite different conclusion: schools are still shot through with homophobic messages, and words like ‘gay’ are flung about as insults by students of all ages.

    If the state of Canadian school inclusion is disheartening, the American picture must surely be worse. The resistance...

  14. 10 Comparative Reflections on Public Recognition of Sexual Diversity
    (pp. 282-316)

    Across Canada, the public recognition of lesbian and gay family relationships took off in the mid-and late 1990s, not long after relationship and parenting issues moved to the front burner of the activist movement. Such changes were in the vanguard internationally, with only a small handful of countries in northwestern Europe keeping pace, and none of them doing so on parenting rights until the 2000s. Schooling was an exception, with only a late and slow start to urgently needed policy changes, though otherwise progressive countries in Europe and elsewhere could hardly claim to have done any better.

    U.S. jurisdictions could...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 317-372)
  16. Index
    (pp. 373-388)