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The Marrying Kind?

The Marrying Kind?: Debating Same-Sex Marriage within the Lesbian and Gay Movement

Mary Bernstein
Verta Taylor
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    The Marrying Kind?
    Book Description:

    As the fight for same-sex marriage rages across the United States and lesbian and gay couples rush to marriage license counters, the goal of marriage is still fiercely questioned within the LGBT movement. Rarely has an objective so central to a social movement's political agenda been so controversial within the movement itself. While antigay forces work to restrict marriage to one man and one woman, lesbian and gay activists are passionately arguing about the desirability, viability, and social consequences of same-sex marriage.

    The Marrying Kind?is the first book to draw on empirical research to examine these debates and how they are affecting marriage equality campaigns. The essays in this volume analyze the rhetoric, strategies, and makeup of the LGBT social movement organizations pushing for same-sex marriage, and address the dire predictions of some LGBT commentators that same-sex marriage will spell the end of queer identity and community. Case studies from California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Canada illuminate the complicated politics of same-sex marriage, making clear that the current disagreements among LGBT activists over whether marriage is conforming or transformative are far too simplistic. Instead, the impact of the marriage equality movement is complex and often contradictory, neither fully assimilationist nor fully oppositional.

    Contributors: Ellen Ann Andersen, U of Vermont; Mary C. Burke, U of Vermont; Adam Isaiah Green, U of Toronto; Melanie Heath, McMaster U, Ontario; Kathleen E. Hull, U of Minnesota; Katrina Kimport, U of California, San Francisco; Jeffrey Kosbie; Katie Oliviero, U of Colorado, Boulder; Kristine A. Olsen; Timothy A. Ortyl; Arlene Stein, Rutgers U; Amy L. Stone, Trinity U; Nella Van Dyke, U of California, Merced.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-3962-9
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. INTRODUCTION: Marital Discord Understanding the Contested Place of Marriage in the Lesbian and Gay Movement
    (pp. 1-36)
    Mary Bernstein and Verta Taylor

    It would be hard to imagine a more heated condemnation of the institution of marriage than this. In isolation, such a manifesto suggests that gay men and lesbians have no use for matrimony. But contrasted to the nationwide campaign for same-sex marriage raging in states across the United States and the crowds of same-sex couples rushing to marriage license counters, Carl Wittman’s statement points to just how contested the issue of marriage is within gay and lesbian communities and the movement. Social movements generally face the most visible opposition from their opponents, but the battle for same-sex marriage is an...


    • 1 What’s the Matter with Newark? Race, Class, Marriage Politics, and the Limits of Queer Liberalism
      (pp. 39-66)
      Arlene Stein

      Twenty years ago, an attorney specializing in the rights of same-sex couples wrote that “no American jurisdiction recognizes the right of two women or two men to marry one another,” and there is “little discussion within the gay rights movement about whether such a right should exist.” Moreover, he lamented, “no gay organization of any size, local or national, has yet declared the right to marry as one of its goals” (Stoddard [1989] 1998, 477). He could hardly have predicted the groundswell of support for same-sex marriage today. Nearly every national gay and lesbian activist organization lists same-sex marriage rights...

    • 2 Same-Sex Marriage and Constituent Perceptions of the LGBT Rights Movement
      (pp. 67-102)
      Kathleen E. Hull and Timothy A. Ortyl

      Most research on social movements examines the words and actions of activists. Traditionally, when researchers turn their attention to a movement’s nonactivist base, they do so to assess the effects of activists’ choices on the constituents. For example, researchers often focus on how activists’ tactical choices and framing of issues affect mobilization or the fostering of a collective identity among constituents. Very little research has addressed the more fundamental question of what a movement’s constituency thinks of the job the movement is doing. Of course, there is every reason to assume that a causal relationship exists between constituents’ views of...

    • 3 Beyond Queer vs. LGBT Discursive Community and Marriage Mobilization in Massachusetts
      (pp. 103-132)
      Jeffrey Kosbie

      On november 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage (Goodridge v. Department of Public Health). Over the next four years, activists mobilized on either side of proposed anti-same-sex marriage constitutional amendments. MassEquality mobilized activists to defend same-sex marriage, but activists fundamentally disagreed about the meaning of marriage and its relationship to a broader social movement. Focusing on post-Goodridgemobilization, this chapter asks how activists used discourse to overcome internal divisions. Mobilizing this diverse coalition depended on multiple framings of marriage that strategically connected multiple individual identities to an activist collective identity, while simultaneously minimizing...


    • 4 Winning for LGBT Rights Laws, Losing for Same-Sex Marriage The LGBT Movement and Campaign Tactics
      (pp. 135-166)
      Amy L. Stone

      In 2000, oregon lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activists successfully defeated yet another antigay ballot measure sponsored by the local Religious Right. This particular ballot measure, the latest in a series of statewide and local measures since 1988, would have eliminated any discussion of LGBT issues in public schools. By 2000 the Oregon LGBT community had become expert in ballot-box politics and was considered by many within the LGBT movement to have the strongest capacity to fight antigay ballot measures. Indeed, in the November 2004 election, as eleven states fought same-sex marriage bans across the country, a disproportionate amount...

    • 5 Yes on Proposition 8 The Conservative Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage
      (pp. 167-216)
      Katie Oliviero

      Norman rockwell’s june 11, 1955,Saturday Evening Postcover featured a young white woman in a yellow dress and white heels snuggling under the shoulder of her fiancé as she signs their marriage license. The state, represented by a marriage license clerk, enlists the spectator with a wry glance to witness this performative act of civil marriage where woman becomes wife, all under the sheltering arm of her boyfriend-turning-husband. The clerk’s skepticism suggests how the mythologization of marriage as a primarily emotional and private relationship conceals its public, regulatory purposes (Cott 2000; Stevens 1999; Warner 1999). Absorbed by each other...


    • 6 Mobilization through Marriage The San Francisco Wedding Protest
      (pp. 219-262)
      Verta Taylor, Katrina Kimport, Nella Van Dyke and Ellen Ann Andersen

      In 2004, same-sex couples engaged in protests at marriage licensing counters across the United States in connection with the gay and lesbian movement’s campaign to promote marriage equality. Showing up at county clerks’ offices, demanding marriage licenses, and holding weddings in public places, gay couples challenged long-standing heteronormativity inscribed in laws that deny marriage to same-sex couples. The largest protest occurred in San Francisco, historically a center of gay and lesbian movement activity (Armstrong 2002), where Mayor Gavin Newsom defied California’s Defense of Marriage Act (Proposition 22) by ordering the county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. During...

    • 7 The Long Journey to Marriage Same-Sex Marriage, Assimilation, and Resistance in the Heartland
      (pp. 263-290)
      Melanie Heath

      In february 2004 I had just embarked on a road trip from California to Oklahoma to undertake an ethnography of the state’s initiative to promote heterosexual marriage—a policy that uses welfare money to provide “marriage education” skills to poor single mothers as a means to lift them out of poverty (see Heath 2012)—when the news hit. Back in California a different form of marriage promotion was taking place. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, asserting authority under the equal protection clause of California’s constitution, had released a directive to the city-county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples....

    • 8 Being Seen through Marriage Lesbian Wedding Photographs and the Troubling of Heteronormativity
      (pp. 291-316)
      Katrina Kimport

      At about noon on thursday, February 12, 2004, Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, directed the county clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Only weeks into his first term as mayor, Newsom chose this course of action with intentionality, aiming to publicly oppose what he perceived as discriminatory comments by then-President George W. Bush that encouraged the restriction of marriage to different-sex couples. Many of the specifics came together very quickly (Chasnoff 2004). Those who were involved in the whirlwind planning did not expect that the license-granting to same-sex couples would last; most assumed the courts...


    • 9 Normalization, Queer Discourse, and the Marriage-Equality Movement in Vermont
      (pp. 319-344)
      Mary Bernstein and Mary C. Burke

      For the past decade at least, the fight for same-sex marriage has arguably been the top priority for the lesbian and gay movement. Lesbian and gay rights activists view extending the right to marry to same-sex couples as a simple matter of equality. In this view, the extension of civil marriage would give same-sex couples the same rights as different-sex couples and would help legitimate gay men and lesbians and the families they form. Queer activists, on the other hand, view the act of extending the right to marry to same-sex couples as simply expanding current conceptions of what is...

    • 10 What Happens When You Get What You Want? The Relationship between Organizational Identity and Goals in the Movement for Same-Sex Marriage
      (pp. 345-374)
      Kristine A. Olsen

      On october 10, 2008, Connecticut’s Supreme Court decided that it was unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples equal access to the institution of marriage. As a result of the ruling inKerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health, marriage was opened to gay and lesbian couples on November 12 of that year. For Connecticut’s most prominent gay and lesbian rights organization, Love Makes a Family (LMF), the outcome marked the end of a decade-long struggle for marriage equality. LMF witnessed a series of successes over the years, including the passage of co-parent adoption and the blocking of a discriminatory DOMA, or “defense...

    • 11 Debating Same-Sex Marriage Lesbian and Gay Spouses Speak to the Literature
      (pp. 375-406)
      Adam Isaiah Green

      Same-sex civil marriage is increasingly a legal reality for lesbian and gay couples throughout North America and Western Europe. And yet, if there is a dearth of empirical attention to same-sex marriage, there has been no lack of speculation on the topic as activists and social critics contemplate the social consequences of same-sex marriage from a wide spectrum of cultural and political standpoints. Typically, these standpoints are marked by distinct forecasts regarding the effects of same-sex marriage on same-sex couples and on the larger society. Ranging from optimistic to apocalyptic, competing forecasts of the effects of state-sanctioned same-sex marriage have...

  10. Contributors
    (pp. 407-408)
  11. Index
    (pp. 409-416)