Category Archives: LGBT Activism: Has the Tide Turned?

In light of recent developments like the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York and the relative absence of debate over LGBT issues during the 2012 Republican primaries, we asked essay contributors to evaluate whether or not the “tide has turned.” Is the LGBT movement experiencing increased success in bringing about desired cultural and policy changes? If something is, in fact, changing how has the change come about and what are some of the long-term implications?

The Implications of a Turning Tide

By Mary Bernstein

My esteemed colleagues have noted the many recent victories regarding LGBT rights and same-sex marriage and that public support for same-sex marriage is growing stronger, especially among younger cohorts.  However, policy change and social acceptance are uneven and, arguably in states with constitutional defense of marriage acts (DOMAs), things may even be worse now in terms of policy than they were previously. Continue reading

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Keep Riding the Wave but Look out for the Undertow!

By Kim Dugan

Has the LGBT movement made great strides in recent years? Without a doubt, yes! Has the “tide turned” for the LGBT Movement? A resounding no!

Clearly the LGBT movement has been experiencing a wave of considerable legal and cultural gains.  Lately, there have been many states passing or on the verge of passing marriage for same-sex partners.  According to Freedom to Marry, six states and DC afford marriage equality to same sex couples. The states of Washington and Maryland will potentially be added to this growing list (assuming victory against the anti-gay forces who are currently working to stop the enactments on the upcoming November ballot).  Further, New Jersey finally passed legislation in favor of marriage equality. While it was quickly vetoed by its governor, mobilizing efforts to overturn this action have already begun.  Several other states afford some lesser version of marriage equality (Freedom to Marry 2012).

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March Essay Dialogue: Has the Tide Turned for LGBT Activism?

We are excited to announce the launch of our March Essay Dialogue, which discusses the current state of LGBT activism. In light of recent developments like the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York and the relative absence of debate over LGBT issues during the 2012 Republican primaries, we invited scholars and activists to evaluate whether or not the “tide has turned.” Is the movement experiencing increased success in bringing about desired cultural and policy changes? If something is, in fact, changing, how has the change come about and what are some of the long-term implications? Contributors to this dialogue bring together current events, activist experience and social theory to address these and other questions.

Thank you to our distinguished contributors to this essay dialogue:

Scott Barclay, Drexel University (essay)
Michael Crawford, Freedom to Marry (essay)
Brian Powell, Indiana University (essay)
Amy Stone, Trinity University (essay)

We will also publish a second set of essays on this topic in mid March, with contributions from Mary Bernstein of the University of Connecticut, Kim Dugan of Eastern Connecticut State University, and Mara Keisling who directs the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Please enjoy engaging with these insightful essays and contribute to the debate by posting your opinions in the comments.

Editors in Chief,

Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Dan Myers

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On Tides and Counter Tides

By Brian Powell

I was invited to contribute to this essay exchange a few weeks ago.  In that short period of time:

  • Governor Chris Gregoire signed Washington’s marriage equality bill into law.
  • The Maryland state legislature passed a same-sex marriage bill that was strongly supported by Governor Martin O’Malley.
  • The New Jersey state legislature voted in favor of marriage equality for same-sex couples.
  • More than 150 mayors from over 30 states signed a pledge to support the “freedom to marry.”
  • A judicial panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Proposition 8, California’s gay marriage ban, is unconstitutional.
  • U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White became the second judge to invalidate the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
  • Just three years after voters in Maine voted to repeal the law that had legalized same-sex marriage, supporters of marriage equality have collected the signatures needed to bring the issue of same-sex marriage back to a referendum.

Many supporters of marriage equality and, more broadly, LGBT rights—and perhaps some opponents as well—may see these events as evidence that the “tide has turned.” Others might not be as convinced. The tides of change are often followed by counter tides.  Continue reading

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Not a Tipping Point, But Definitely a Turning Point

By Michael Crawford

Looking at recent advances on the freedom to marry it seems the “love that dare not speak its name” has become the love that politically can’t be stopped.

In February alone, marriage bills were passed by legislatures in Maryland, New Jersey and Washington State, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that found that California’s Prop 8 violates the U.S. Constitution and groups in Maine have announced that they are going to the ballot to win the freedom to marry.

In many ways it seems after so many years of playing defense, fighting against anti-gay ballot campaigns and attempts by conservatives to add anti-gay language to the U.S. Constitution that the LGBT movement is finally on offense. Continue reading

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Married in Massachusetts, Fired in Florida: Turning the Tide of LGBT activism?

By Amy L. Stone

At the moment I write this, same-sex marriage laws are being seriously considered by three state legislatures across the country, and at least one state governor has signed a same-sex marriage law. This shift—same-sex marriage being passed by legislatures rather than through judicial ruling—has been seen as a sign that the tide has shifted for LGBT activism.

And indeed, progress is being made across the country.

Among many other accomplishments, in the past decade, a federal hate crimes law has been passed, along with numerous LGBT-supportive public policies under Obama. The Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy has been rescinded in the military, leading to open inclusion of lesbian and gay military members. In 2003, sodomy laws across the country were overturned with the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas. And according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, a majority of citizens of the United States are covered by nondiscrimination laws that include protections based on sexual orientation either in their home state or city. Some of these nondiscrimination laws include gender identity and expression, which provides protection for transgender individuals.  Continue reading

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From Controversial to Mundane; From Unusual to Routine

By Scott Barclay

In the politics of marriage equality, there are six important indicators that the tide has turned for lesbian and gay rights around this issue.

From Unusual to Routine Politics: At one point in time in the last twenty years in seventeen separate states (CA, CT, DE, HI, IA, IL, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, NV, OR, RI, VT, and WA), either a state’s legislature successfully passed a bill through both legislatives houses in support of same sex marriage or civil unions OR a state’s highest court judicially ordered the establishment of same sex marriage and/or civil unions. Based on 2010 Census figures, one hundred and seventeen million residents – 38% of the US population – currently live in one of these seventeen states. Although simple math indicates that thirty-three states remain, seventeen states constitutes over one-third of all US states. The important point being that full or nearly full recognition by a state government for lesbian and gay couples in long-term, committed relationships is no longer aberrant or unusual. In fact, there is increasingly a sense of inevitability associated positively with the future prospects of the issue. The very presence of gubernatorial vetoes on this issue, such as in California in 2005 and 2007 or in New Jersey in 2012, and the new possibility of over-riding such vetoes evidences a politics as normal aspect that has become attached to the issue. Continue reading

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