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The passage of the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 in California in 2008 stunned gay rights activists across the country. Although facing a well-funded campaign in support of the ballot measure, LGBT activists had good reasons for optimism, including the size and strength of their campaign. Since 1974, the LGBT movement has fought 146 anti-gay ballot initiatives sponsored by the religious right and has developed innovative strategies to oppose these measures. In Gay Rights at the Ballot Box, Amy L. Stone examines how the tactics of LGBT activists have evolved and unravels the complex relationship between ballot measure campaigns and the broader goals of the LGBT movement.
The first comprehensive history of anti-gay ballot measures, both those merely attempted and those successfully put before voters, this book draws on archival research and interviews with more than one hundred LGBT activists to provide a detailed account of the campaigns to stop such ballot measures from passing into law. As Stone shows through in-depth case studies, although LGBT activists lost the vast majority of these fights, they also won significant statewide victories in Oregon in 1992 and Arizona in 2006, and local successes, including ones in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in 1998 and 2002.
Stone analyzes how LGBT activists constantly refined their campaign tactics in response to both victories and defeats. She also stresses that such campaigns have played both a complementary and contradictory role within the LGBT movement. Specific anti-ballot campaigns and the broader movement do often strengthen each other. However, ballot measure campaigns sometimes distract activists from the movement’s more general goals, and activists at the movement level can pressure local campaigns to take on more than they can handle. With gay rights coming under increasing assault from the religious right, this book is a vital resource for LGBT activists and others working to block their efforts.
Stories of Exile and Belonging
Gay Seattle traces the evolution of Seattle’s gay community over the last 100 turbulent years, telling through a century of stories how gays and lesbians have sought to achieve a sense of belonging in Seattle. These stories of exile and belonging draw on numerous original interviews as well as case studies of individuals and organizations that played important roles in the history of Seattle’s gay and lesbian community.
After decades of silence on the subject of homosexuality, television in the 1990s saw a striking increase in programming that incorporated and, in many cases, centered on gay material. In shows including Friends, Seinfeld, Party of Five, Homicide, Suddenly Susan, The Commish, Ellen, Will & Grace, and others, gay characters were introduced, references to homosexuality became commonplace, and issues of gay and lesbian relationships were explored, often in explicit detail.In Gay TV and Straight America, Ron Becker draws on a wide range of political and cultural indicators to explain this sudden upsurge of gay material on prime-time network television. Bringing together analysis of relevant Supreme Court rulings, media coverage of gay rights battles, debates about multiculturalism, concerns over political correctness, and much more, Becker's assessment helps us understand how and why televised gayness was constructed by a specific culture of tastemakers during the decade.On one hand the evidence points to network business strategies that embraced gay material as a valuable tool for targeting a quality audience of well-educated, upscale adults looking for something "edgy" to watch. But, Becker also argues that the increase of gay material in the public eye creates growing mainstream anxiety in reaction to the seemingly civil public conversation about equal rights.In today's cultural climate where controversies rage over issues of gay marriage yet millions of viewers tune in weekly to programs like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, this book offers valuable insight to the complex condition of America's sexual politics.
Joseph Steffan versus the United States
In April 1987 Joseph C. Steffan, one of the ten highest ranking midshipmen in his class at the U.S. Naval Academy, and only six weeks from graduation, was denied his diploma and forced to resign his commission because he answered "Yes, sir" to the question, "I'd like your word, are you a homosexual?" Six years later his cause, and that of other gay men and lesbians seeking to serve their country by enlistment in the military, has become the subject of intense national controversy. This unusual and innovative work, based on the litigation strategy and court papers filed in the case of Joseph C. Steffan v. Richard Cheney, Secretary of Defense, et al., brings the resources of clinical psychiatry, clinical and social psychology, cultural history and political science to bear upon the fundamental questions at issue: How is sexual orientation determined? How and why have socially prejudiced stereotypes about male and female homosexuals developed? Why have gays faced special obstacles in defending themselves against discrimination? How much political power do gays have?
Marc Wolinsky and Kenneth Sherrill argue that gays constitute a politically powerless class that has been unjustly deprived of its constitutional right to equal protection under the law. They have collected here the affidavits filed on behalf of Joseph Steffan in his suit against the United States government, together with the counter-arguments of the Department of Defense and the extraordinary opinion of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Whatever the outcome of the case, presently on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, this book will stand as a lasting and indispensable guide to the sources of sexual discrimination.
In this provocative study, Dana Cairns Watson traces Gertrude Stein’s growing fascination with the cognitive and political ramifications of conversation and how that interest influenced her writing over the course of her career. No book in recent decades has illuminated so many of Stein’s works so extensively—from the early fiction of The Making of Americans to the poetry of Tender Buttons to her opera libretto The Mother of Us All. Seeking to sustain Stein’s lively, pleasant, populist spirit, Watson shows how the writer’s playful entanglement of sight and sound—of silent reading and social speaking—reveals the crucial ambiguity by which reading and conversation build communities of meaning, and thus form not only personal relationships but also our very selves and the larger political structures we inhabit. Stein reminds us that the residual properties of words and the implications behind the give-and-take of ordinary conversation offer alternatives to linear structures of social order, alternatives especially precious in times of political oppression. For example, her novels Mrs. Reynolds and Brewsie and Willie, both written in embattled Vichy France, contemplate the speech patterns of totalitarian leaders and the ways in which everyday discourse might capitulate to—or resist—such verbal tyranny. Like recent theorists, Stein recognized the repressiveness of conventional order—carried in language and thus in thought and social organization—but as Cairns Watson persuasively shows, she also insisted that the free will of individuals can persist in language and enable change. In the play of literary aesthetics, Stein saw a liberating force.
Postmodern Lesbian Politics
Vol. 5, no. 3 (1999); Vol. 6 (2000) through current issue
Providing a much-needed forum for interdisciplinary discussion, GLQ publishes scholarship, criticism, and commentary in areas as diverse as law, science studies, religion, political science, and literary studies. Its aim is to offer queer perspectives on all issues touching on sex and sexuality. In an effort to achieve the widest possible historical, geographic, and cultural scope, GLQ particularly seeks out new research into historical periods before the twentieth century, into non-Anglophone cultures, and into the experience of those who have been marginalized by race, ethnicity, age, social class, body morphology, or sexual practice. A notable feature is "The GLQ Archive," a special section featuring previously unpublished or unavailable primary materials that may serve as sources for future work in lesbian and gay studies.
The Rhetorics of Religious Violence
2007 Choice Outstanding Academic Title
At the funeral of Matthew Shepard—the young Wyoming man brutally murdered for being gay—the Reverend Fred Phelps led his parishioners in protest, displaying signs with slogans like “Matt Shepard rots in Hell,” “Fags Die God Laughs,” and “God Hates Fags.” In counter-protest, activists launched an “angel action,” dressing in angel costumes, with seven-foot high wings, and creating a visible barrier so one would not have to see the hateful signs.
Though long thought of as one of the most virulently anti-gay genres of contemporary American politics and culture, in God Hates Fags, Michael Cobb maintains that religious discourses have curiously figured as the most potent and pervasive forms of queer expression and activism throughout the twentieth century. Cobb focuses on how queers have assumed religious rhetoric strategically to respond to the violence done against them, alternating close readings of writings by James Baldwin, Tennessee Williams, Jean Toomer, Dorothy Allison, and Stephen Crane with critical legal and political analyses of Supreme Court Cases and anti-gay legislation. He also pays deep attention to the political strategies, public declarations, websites, interviews, and other media made by key religious right organizations that have mounted the most successful regulations and condemnations of homosexuality.