When state voters passed the California Marriage Protection Act (Proposition 8) in 2008, it restricted the definition of marriage to a legal union between a man and a woman. The act's passage further agitated an already roiling national debate about whether American notions of family could or should expand to include, for example, same-sex marriage, unmarried cohabitation, and gay adoption. But how do Americans really define family? The first study to explore this largely overlooked question, Counted Out examines currents in public opinion to assess their policy implications and predict how Americans' definitions of family may change in the future. Counted Out broadens the scope of previous studies by moving beyond efforts to understand how Americans view their own families to examine the way Americans characterize the concept of family in general. The book reports on and analyzes the results of the authors' Constructing the Family Surveys (2003 and 2006), which asked more than 1,500 people to explain their stances on a broad range of issues, including gay marriage and adoption, single parenthood, the influence of biological and social factors in child development, religious ideology, and the legal rights of unmarried partners. Not surprisingly, the authors find that the standard bearer for public conceptions of family continues to be a married, heterosexual couple with children. More than half of Americans also consider same-sex couples with children as family, and from 2003 to 2006 the percentages of those who believe so increased significantly—up 6 percent for lesbian couples and 5 percent for gay couples. The presence of children in any living arrangement meets with a notable degree of public approval. Less than 30 percent of Americans view heterosexual cohabitating couples without children as family, while similar couples with children count as family for nearly 80 percent. Counted Out shows that for most Americans, however, the boundaries around what they define as family are becoming more malleable with time. Counted Out demonstrates that American definitions of family are becoming more expansive. Who counts as family has far-reaching implications for policy, including health insurance coverage, end-of-life decisions, estate rights, and child custody. Public opinion matters. As lawmakers consider the future of family policy, they will want to consider the evolution in American opinion represented in this groundbreaking book. A Volume in the American Sociological Association's Rose Series in Sociology
“We’ve been together in sickness and in health, through the death of his mother, through the adoption of our children, through four long years of this legal battle,” Jason Morgan told reporters of himself and his partner, Chuck Swaggerty. “And if being together through all of that isn’t love and commitment or isn’t family or isn’t marriage, then I don’t know what is.” Just minutes earlier on that day, April 3, 2009, the justices of the Iowa Supreme Court had agreed.
The court’s decision in Varnum v. Brien made Iowa only the third state in the nation to permit same-sex couples to wed—moderate, midwestern Iowa, years before such left-leaning coastal states as California and New York. And unlike the earlier decisions in Massachusetts and Connecticut, Varnum v. Brien was unanimous and unequivocal. It catalyzed the unprecedented and rapid shift in law and public opinion that continues today.
Equal Before the Law tells the stories behind this critical battle in the fight for marriage equality and traces the decision’s impact. The struggle began in 1998 with the easy passage of Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act and took a turn, surprising to many, in 2005, when six ordinary Iowa couples signed on to Lambda Legal’s suit against the law. Their triumph in 2009 sparked a conservative backlash against the supreme court justices, three of whom faced tough retention elections that fall.
Longtime, award-winning reporters Tom Witosky and Marc Hansen talked with and researched dozens of key figures, including opponent Bob Vander Plaats, proponents Janelle Rettig and Sharon Malheiro, attorneys Roger Kuhle, Dennis Johnson, and Camilla Taylor, and politicians Matt McCoy, Mary Lundby, and Tom Vilsack, who had to weigh their careers against their convictions. Justice Mark Cady, who wrote the decision, explains why the court had to rule in favor of the plaintiffs. At the center of the story are the six couples who sacrificed their privacy to demand public respect for their families.
Through these voices, Witosky and Hansen show that no one should have been surprised by the 2009 decision. Iowans have a long history of leadership on civil rights. Just a year after Iowa became a state, its citizens adopted as their motto the phrase, “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.” And they still do today.
During the past three decades, nations all over the world have been debating whether to allow same-sex couples to marry, or at least grant these couples various rights associated with marriage. In Equality for Same-Sex Couples, Yuval Merin presents the first comparative study of the legal regulation of same-sex partnerships worldwide, as well as a unique survey of the status of same-sex couples in Europe.
Merin begins by providing a historical overview of the transformation of marriage from antiquity to the present. He then identifies and critically compares four principal models for the legal regulation and recognition of same-sex partnerships: civil marriage, registered partnership, domestic partnership, and cohabitation. Merin concludes that all of the models except civil marriage discriminate against gays and lesbians just as the "separate but equal" doctrine discriminated against African Americans; thus, so-called alternatives to marriage, even if they provide the same rights and benefits as marriage, are inherently unequal and therefore unconstitutional.
Denton Welch (1915–48) died at the age of thirty-three after a brief but brilliant career as a writer and painter. The revealing, poignant, impressionistic voice that buoys his novels was much praised by critics and literati in England and has since inspired creative artists from William S. Burroughs to John Waters. His achievements were all the more remarkable because he suffered from debilitating spinal and pelvic injuries incurred in a bicycle accident at age eighteen.
Though German bombs were ravaging Britain, Welch wrote in his published work about the idyllic landscapes and local people he observed in Kent. There, in 1943, he met and fell in love with Eric Oliver, a handsome, intelligent, but rather insecure "landboy"—an agricultural worker with the wartime Land Army. Oliver would become a companion, comrade, lover, and caretaker during the last six years of Welch's life. All fifty-one letters that Welch wrote to Oliver are collected and annotated here for the first time. They offer a historical record of life amidst the hardship, deprivation, and fear of World War II, and also are a timeless testament of one young man's tender and intimate emotions, his immense courage in adversity, and his continual struggle for love and creative existence.
Every day seems to bring news of legal challenges to existing marriage laws and the constitutionality of any form of union for same-sex partners. In this timely and accessible book, Michael Mello argues that the public debates and political battles that have divided Vermont and Massachusetts will be repeated across the country as state after state confronts the issue of legalizing gay marriage.Michael Mello examines recent landmark decisions in state and federal high courts granting civil rights protections to homosexuals. In Vermont, the Supreme Court's recommendation that legislators recognize the "common humanity" that links all individuals irrespective of sexual identity and consider the question of same-sex marriage resulted in the first state legislation to establish civil union. In Massachusetts, the court's ruling that gay marriage is a right protected by the state constitution has plunged the legislature into a contentious debate about a constitutional amendment. In both states, as in California and New York, public discussion of equal civil protections for gays and lesbians soon become mired in contending views of morality, religion, social mores, and the sanctity of heterosexual marriage.Mello regards the widespread and virulent opposition to any form of same-sex unions as proof that in Vermont, as elsewhere, homosexuals are indeed a "despised minority" in need of the law's protection. Thus, civil union laws represent only a partial victory because they create a separate and inherently unequal category of relationships for gay people. Mello's analysis of the issues provides an invaluable guide to the battles being waged in state legislatures and by politicians at the national level.
In Love Stories, Jonathan Ned Katz presents stories of men's intimacies with men during the nineteenth century—including those of Abraham Lincoln—drawing flesh-and-blood portraits of intimate friendships and the ways in which men struggled to name, define, and defend their sexual feelings for one another. In a world before "gay" and "straight" referred to sexuality, men like Walt Whitman and John Addington Symonds created new ways to name and conceive of their erotic relationships with other men. Katz, diving into history through diaries, letters, newspapers, and poems, offers us a clearer picture than ever before of how men navigated the uncharted territory of male-male desire.
Studies have shown that married couples have better mental and physical health than unmarried people. Leading scholars and policy makers propose that marriage can provide similar benefits to people in both same-sex and different-sex relationships. Though research on the health and well-being of same-sex couples is a new and growing field, Marriage and Health: The Well-Being of Same-Sex Couples represents the forefront of marriage and health research and the far-reaching policy implications for the health of same-sex couples. This collection of essays presents new perspectives that address current opportunities and challenges faced by people in same-sex unions in multiple domains of well-being, including physical and mental health, social support, socialized behaviors, and stigmas. The book offers a broad view of same-sex couples’ experiences by examining not only marriage and civil unions, but also dating and cohabiting relationships as well as same-sex sexual experiences outside of relationships.
In Men without Maps, John Ibson uncovers the experiences of men after World War II who had same-sex desires but few affirmative models of how to build identities and relationships. Though heterosexual men had plenty of cultural maps—provided by nearly every engine of social and popular culture—gay men mostly lacked such guides in the years before parades, organizations, and publications for queer persons. Surveying the years from shortly before the war up to the gay rights movement of the late 1960s and early ’70s, Ibson considers male couples, who balanced domestic contentment with exterior repression, as well as single men, whose solitary lives illuminate unexplored aspects of the queer experience. Men without Maps shows how, in spite of the obstacles they faced, midcentury gay men found ways to assemble their lives and senses of self at a time of limited acceptance.
In this rich, surprising portrait of the world of lesbian and gay relationships, Christopher Carrington unveils the complex and artful ways that gay people create and maintain both homes and "chosen" families for themselves.
"Carefully separating stereotype from reality, Carrington investigates family in the gay and lesbian community. Relying upon interviews and observation, the author analyzes the loves and routings of 52 diverse lesbian, gay, and bisexual couples in the Bay area. . . . [He] closes the work with a discussion of the raging same-sex marriage debate and posits an enlightened solution to this dilemma." —Library Journal
The concept of marriage as a union of a man and a woman was fundamentally challenged by the introduction of registered partnership in Denmark in 1989. Odd Couples is the first comprehensive history of registered partnership and gay marriage in Scandinavia. It traces the origins of laws which initially were extremely controversial—inside and outside the gay community—but have now gained broad popular and political support, as well as the positive effects and risks involved in state recognition of lesbian and gay couples. Through a comparison of how these laws have been received and practiced in all of the Scandinavian countries, including Greenland and the Faroe Islands, the author presents a nuanced study of a fascinating political process that began in the 1960s and continues to change the way we understand family, sexuality and nation.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people face the same family issues as their heterosexual counterparts, but that is only the beginning of their struggle. The LGBT community also encounters legal barriers to government recognition of their same-sex relationships and relationships to their own children. Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families addresses partner recognition, parenting, issues affecting children of LGBT parents, health care, discrimination, senior care and elder rights, and equal access to social services.
Sean Cahill and Sarah Tobias provide up-to-date, accurate analysis of the major policies affecting LGBT people, their same-sex partners, and their children. This valuable resource offers literature reviews of demographic research as well as original research based on the U.S. Census same-sex couple sample. It also provides a look at the 30-year history of right-wing anti-gay activism and the intra-community intellectual debates over the fight for marriage.
"The sheer diversity of gay people and opinion shines through Cahill and Tobias's fact-packed depiction of same-sex couples and their kids, their needs and day-to-day challenges, and the movement for fairness and the freedom to marry. The disparate personal stories and struggles in this informative book underscore the importance of ending discrimination in marriage and ensuring that no family is left behind."
—Evan Wolfson, Founder and Executive Director of the Freedom to Marry Project
"A concise, comprehensive guide to gay-family issues that combines an impassioned progressive sensibility with a firm respect for facts."
—Jonathan Rauch, senior writer and columnist for National Journal,Atlantic Monthly correspondent, and author of Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America
"Cahill and Tobias offer readers a thorough and immensely readable guide to the legal problems faced by LGBT families."
—Ellen Andersen, Indiana University–Purdue University at Indianapolis
"For an account of policy issues that frame lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) family lives here in the United States, one need look no further. Sean Cahill and Sarah Tobias supply accurate and up-to-date information about the legal and policy contexts of LGBT lives across the country. This book is sure to be a valuable resource for students and scholars, as well as for others seeking to understand and challenge discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity."
—Charlotte J. Patterson, University of Virginia
Sean Cahill is Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute.
Sarah Tobias is a feminist theorist and LGBT activist who earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University. She has taught Political Theory at colleges in New York and New Jersey, and currently works as Senior Policy Analyst in the Democracy program at Demos, a New York City–based think tank.