The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule later this spring on issues concerning same-sex marriage. Whatever the Court decides, its decisions will be momentous. This fact brings to mind an intriguing topic in the law and social movement literature for social movement scholars and activists to consider: the degree to which litigation (or legal mobilization, to use a favored term in the literature) is a potentially effective strategy for achieving social movement goals. In view of the impending Court decisions, certain observations, based on a growing body of work by legal and social movement scholars, seem in order. Continue reading
Tag Archives: countermovements
As you may have heard on the news, or perhaps from a co-worker, August 1 was Chik-fil-a appreciation day. This was an event driven by backlash against the perceived stifling of the Dan Cathy’s (the president and CEO of the company) right to express his opinion on gay marriage (he is very much opposed). His comments spurred several gay rights groups to call for a boycott of Chik-fil-a. While the verdict is still out on the boycott it did have one major unintended effect, mobilizing opposition. To show support for Chik-fil-a, and Mr. Cathy’s comments hundreds of thousands of supporters showed up to purchase something from their local restaurant setting a single day sales record for the corporation. This story struck me for two very differnet reasons, the first is how tactics and strategy align to create success or failure for a movement, and the second is how social media played in this situation.
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