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The Long Arc of Justice

The Long Arc of Justice: Lesbian and Gay Marriage, Equality, and Rights

Richard D. Mohr
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    The Long Arc of Justice
    Book Description:

    Engaging the whole spectrum of public-policy issues affecting gays and lesbians from a humanistic and philosophical approach, Richard Mohr uses the tools of his trade to assess the logic and ethics of gay rights. Focusing on ideas and values, Mohr's nuanced case for legal and social acceptance applies widely held ethical principles to various issues, including same-sex marriage, AIDS, and gays in the military. By drawing on cultural-, legal-, and ethical-based arguments, Mohr moves away from tired political rhetoric and reveals the important ways in which the struggle for gay rights and acceptance relates to mainstream American society, history, and political life.Mohr forcefully counters moralistic and religious arguments regularly invoked to keep gay men and women from achieving the same rights as heterosexuals. He examines the nature of prejudices and other cultural forces that work against lesbian and gay causes and considers the role that sexuality plays in the national rituals by which Americans define themselves. In his support of same-sex marriage, Mohr defines matrimony as the development and maintenance of intimacy through the means by which people meet their basic needs and carry out their everyday living. Mohr contends that this definition, in both its legal and moral sense, applies equally to homosexual and heterosexual couples. Mohr also considers gays and lesbians as community members as he explores the prospect for greater legal and social inclusion. He concludes by suggesting that recent progress in addressing civil rights for gays and lesbians and the nation's symbolic use of gay issues on both sides of the political spectrum calls for a culturally focused gay politics.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50944-2
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[x])
  3. Introduction: A Taboo’s End
    (pp. 1-16)

    The town I live in is girded by cornfields and good ol’ boys. It’s nowhere near large enough to support a gay pride parade the last weekend of June, when cities across America commemorate with parades the so-called Stonewall Riots that launched the modern lesbian and gay rights movement in 1969. The town’s gay men and lesbians do something at once more radical and more ordinary than that. We have a gay contingent in the town’s all-American Fourth of July Parade. The parade draws in crowds from all over the county and much of the rest of east-central Illinois. Last...

  4. Chapter 1 Lesbian and Gay Basics: Some Questions, Facts, and Values
    (pp. 17-38)

    Over the last decade, gay men and lesbians have begun to make steady progress in getting our issues debated—in the courts, at city hall, in state houses, in Congress, and by the White House. But there remain structural impediments to lesbians and gay men making consistent progress in shepherding our interests across these debates on into public policy, social practice, and law. Ironically, just as the progress that gays have made to date has largely been cultural, so too are the undertows that trip up further progress. These undertows include: the persistence of antigay stereotypes; a belief held by...

  5. Chapter 2 Sexual Privacy
    (pp. 39-54)

    America doesn’t like to talk about sex. I suspect that one impulse driving America’s rush to conceptualize lesbians and gay men as a religious- or ethnic-like minority is to avoid having to do that very thing. And what with all the talk of gay marriage in the air, a space alien anthropologist recently come to Earth would hardly suspect that sex was part of what defined gay men and lesbians as homosexuals. Keep an eye out for “Love Waits” pledge cards to start showing up at gay community centers. The age of the Great Gay Secondary Virginity is upon us. I...

  6. Chapter 3 The Case for Lesbian and Gay Marriage
    (pp. 55-72)

    The climax of Harvey Fierstein’s 1979 playTorch Song Trilogyis a dialogue—well, shouting match—between mother and son about traditional marriage and its gay variant. As is frequently the case, the nature and function of an institution flashes forth only when the institution breaks down or is dissolved—here by the death of Arnold’s lover.

    [Arnold ]: (I’m) widow-ing.

    ... ... ...

    [Ma ]: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Are you trying to compare my marriage with you and Alan? Your father and I were married for thirty-five years, had two children and a wonderful life together. You have the...

  7. Chapter 4 Equality
    (pp. 73-92)

    A student—distraught—slips into the office of her high school guidance counselor. The student thinks she might be a lesbian. It is dawning on her that she seems to like girls rather than boys. And someone has just called her a derogatory name. The counselor tries to console, advise—counsel—the student to the best of her ability, given available resources. She suggests that being a lesbian is not the end of the world, that she herself, for example, likes women. Buoyed by her success counseling this student and another gay male student, the counselor begins to mention her...

  8. Chapter 5 Civil Rights
    (pp. 93-110)

    Current federal civil rights law bars private-sector discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations on the basis of race, national origin, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, and disability, but not sexual orientation. Where city councils and state legislatures have passed protections for gay men and lesbians, the protections have been under concerted and frequently successful attack through referendum initiatives. In 1997 and again in 2000, Maine’s legislature passed statewide civil rights laws protecting gay men and lesbians only to have the law in each case overturned by referenda. This chapter offers moral arguments for protecting lesbians and gay men from private-sector...

  9. Chapter 6 Understanding Lesbians and Gay Men in the Military
    (pp. 111-118)

    From the Second World War through the first Gulf War, the United States military excluded from service anyone it considered to be homosexual. Then, in 1993, the country adopted a more complicated policy. By federal statute, the military is barred from asking its members whether they are gay, but is required to discharge any member who says he or she is gay.¹ The policy is popularly dubbed “don’t ask, don’t tell.” On average, a thousand lesbian and gay soldiers have been dismissed each year under the policy from 1993 to 2003.² The policy is not one which can be morally...

  10. Conclusion: America’s Promise and the Lesbian and Gay Future
    (pp. 119-136)

    A perplexity: at the dawn of the twenty-first century, just as lesbians and gay men were making slow, steady, incremental progress in the direction of social and legal equality, interest in lesbian and gay issues suddenly exploded across the national scene and gay folk themselves significantly raised the bar up the standards of what they wanted, expected, and were willing to fight for. Chief among the new expectations was access to full marriage rights, something that gay organizations, both state and national, had not before pegged as a high priority. Indeed, when it came to same-sex marriage, gay political organizations...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 137-142)
  12. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 143-146)