Category Archives: civil rights

January 25, 2015, 12:00 pm

On Gay Marriage and the Trouble With Queer


From left, Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, same sex marriage litigants. Paul Sancya/Associated Press

There are plenty of righteous political arguments against LGBT people organizing their lives around marriage and family formation. I say this as someone who was relieved to learn I was a lesbian, even though coming out was tough, because the last thing I wanted was to marry and parent children. I wanted work, and I wanted freedom, and being a person who was legally barred from both parenthood and marriage was a huge relief. I also took it too far, and made myself obnoxious to others. People who knew me when I was young may remember that I could be downright nasty towards the special insights, pleasures and benefits that many of my feminist mentors associated with mothering (whatever afterlife you are in, Sara Ruddick

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June 27, 2013, 11:37 am

After DOMA: Should Civil Rights Activists Return to the Local?

Queers for Economic Justice march in New York

Queers for Economic Justice march in New York

In the hours after yesterday’s rulings in Windsor v. United States and Hollingsworth v. Perry, social media may have racked up some of their biggest numbers ever. Every post I put up on Facebook received ten likes or comments every three minute or so, as did the pages of several of my friends.

One prominent theme was how GLBT folk should interpret these rulings, and how they should be understood in light of the week’s earlier decisions in relation to affirmative action (Fisher v. Texas) and the Voting Rights Act (Shelby County v. Holder.) Both of these decisions exemplify the retraction of civil rights accomplishments that targeted women, the poor and people of color. Indeed, many postings by progressive queers and straights expressed disappointment that in the…

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March 31, 2013, 2:19 pm

Feather and Tar Me, But Get Me To The Court On Time


Jack Russell Terrier wedding cake toppers

Remember the scene from My Fair Lady in which Liza Doolittle’s no-good, anti-marriage, alcoholic father (who, in the first act, has tried to sell his daughter to Professor ‘Enry ‘Iggins) effects a vast change in his circumstance by getting a wealthy widow to put a ring on it?

Poor and working class people had few options in Victorian London, and marrying into the middle classes was one of them. Both marriage models are represented in My Fair Lady: Liza marries for love, while her father marries for money. Inviting his drinking pals to “feather and tar me” on the eve of his nuptials, Alfred Doolittle inveighs against the marital state, kisses his many girlfriends goodbye, and orders his friends to “get me to the church on time”:

If I am dancing, roll up the floor,
If …

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March 16, 2013, 1:07 pm

The Custom of the Country: Investigating Email @Harvard.Edu

harvard-logo-jpg-180One of the downsides to being Harvard University is that everything you do is publicized as if no one else has ever done it.

Take the undergraduate cheating scandal, that led to the investigation of the cheating scandal, that led to a lot of students being asked to either take a leave to think about their sins or get the hell out of Dodge for good. Students (and proffies!) cheat at lots of institutions, but when it happens at Harvard it seems to be particularly news-worthy.

Why is this? Well, here’s a parallel example. When Peaches Honeyblossom Geldof, daughter of Irish activist rocker Sir Bob “I Don’t Like Mondays” Geldof, was picked up for shoplifting cosmetics last summer (and not for the first time either) it was commented on extensively; the same crimes committed every day by Joe Blow from Kokomo command very little attention. We expect Joe to shoplift: he’s a witless…

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March 14, 2013, 4:12 pm

Looking for the Women on Wikipedia: Readers Respond


The Sisters of Selma Photo Credit

This post about Wikipedia’s woman problem drew a bunch of great comments, some with links to resources. It also fed into an epic flurry of announcements from Twitterati about events in the next two weeks where feminists of all genders are gathering, IRL and online, to make inroads on the He-Man Boys Club Encyclopedia. You might want to go into my Twitter feed to look for one near you.

I did want to lift one comment into this post because I thought it was so interesting. @kosboot writes:

One major, major point that Claire Potter does not mention (I feel it almost invalidates her article) is to remember that Wikipedia is a social network.  If you’re invited over to someone’s house, do you immediately help yourself to food and start changing the furniture?  No of course not -…

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