Marriage Equality: How to Achieve It?

—Melanie Heath

Quelle surprise! On June 22, 2012, David Blankenhorn, the founder of the Institute of American Values, came out in favor of marriage for lesbian and gay couples. Blankenhorn became a national figure as an expert witness in Perry v. Schwarzenegger on the side of proponents for California’s Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment passed in the November 2008 state election that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. His testimony was based on arguments concerning same-sex marriage that he made in his 2007 book, The Future of Marriage—and they run as follows: the “natural” family consists of a male and a female whose sex act makes the child; the natural couple makes a commitment to one another to raise the child together; and, the sexual bond with the female transforms the male from inseminator to father. Blankenhorn asserts in his recent New York Times op-ed that marriage for the natural (heterosexual) family is fundamentally different than for lesbians and gay men: “Marriage is the planet’s only institution whose core purpose is to unite the biological, social and legal components of parenthood into one lasting bond.”

Blankenhorn’s step, then, to come out on “how my view of gay marriage has changed” is momentous in the fight for marriage equality. In his op-ed, he explains his belief that the time for denigrating or stigmatizing same-sex relationships is over. “Whatever your definition of marriage, legally recognizing gay and lesbian couples and their children is a victory for basic fairness.” Interestingly, Blankenhorn himself does not use the term “marriage equality,” although his reference to basic fairness captures its essence: the fundamental civil right to choose one’s partner in marriage is a powerful symbol of full equality and citizenship.

But how do we achieve marriage equality? Basically, we must recognize that the “natural” family is no longer the sole or predominant family form in the United States. The logic that follows, in my view, is the need to think beyond a focus on the right to choose one’s partner—whether of the same or different gender— in marriage. Another factor often left out of the debate is the tendency in the United States to treat marriage as the only form of family worthy of merit, making it legally and economically privileged above all others. In fact, the idea that marriage is the superlative institution for family life and raising children is what motivated Blankenhorn to found the Institute for American Values with its focus on stemming the “breakdown” of American families and its advocacy of what are broadly known as “marriage promotion” policies.

In my book, One Marriage Under God, I outline the social consequences of marriage promotion and its effects on social inequality. Marriage promotion is a major current in contemporary public policy aimed at the reduction of poverty, using anti-poverty funds for programs and activities to strengthen and promote marriage (heterosexuality is implicit). These policies started with the 1996 passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, or welfare reform, which designated promoting marriage as an allowable activity and use of a state’s welfare block grant. Since then, federal laws and funding programs have incorporated activities to promote “healthy marriage initiatives” across the nation.

How do these policies relate to marriage equality? Blankenhorn and other proponents of marriage promotion might argue that these policies will help the impoverished who have historically low rates of marriage and marriage success to build stronger families by giving them the tools to help them get and stay married. This would be a commendable goal if it not were for the fact that these initiatives and policies tend to actually create more inequality rather than reduce it.

My book, based on ethnographic research conducted on the marriage initiative in Oklahoma—a pioneer of marriage promotion policies funded by the state’s welfare grant—examines marriage promotion policies on the ground. One of the goals of the marriage initiative has been to provide low-income couples with marriage education skills—the skills and behaviors needed for successful marriages. I found that, in contrast to the initiative’s intention to target low-income couples, a large proportion of these services are actually going to more privileged recipients. The marriage initiative offers free workshops to the general population, and the majority of those who attend can afford to pay. Thus, the outcome is a redistribution of funds and services away from the more impoverished segments of the population. When services do go to poor women who are eligible for or are receiving welfare benefits, these women have little interest in learning skills to help them marry. Most expressed the need to get on their own feet before considering marriage, and they articulated being unnecessarily stigmatized and targeted by workshops that focused on their need to marry. Marriage education workshops also assume that all relationships are heterosexual, reinforcing the marginalization of lesbian and gay couples.

If lesbians and gay men were offered the legal opportunity to marry, this last form of discrimination would likely disappear. Yet, we would still live in a society where the ideology that views marriage to be the gold standard of relationships pervades our laws and social policy. Advocates of marriage equality point out that, in 2004, the General Accounting Office of the Federal Government compiled a list of 1,138 rights and benefits related to civil marriage, including social security and related programs, housing, and food stamps, veterans’ benefits, and taxation. It is certainly true that lesbians and gay men should not be denied these rights, or the right of basic equality to choose their partner in marriage. It is time, however, to consider a broader definition of equality for the married and unmarried—whether heterosexual or non-heterosexual—to support and recognize alternative forms of households and families beyond promoting “one marriage” for all.

Melanie Heath is the author of One Marriage Under God: The Campaign to Promote Marriage in America, published by NYU Press in April 2012. She is assistant professor of Sociology at McMaster University in Ontario.

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Looking Further Behind Stonewall

—Leila J. Rupp

As celebrations for LGBTQ Pride month take off around the country and world, we often look back to Stonewall, but rarely much further. For me, the diversity of bodies, identities, desires, and performances that are represented in the most inclusive Pride celebrations recall much longer histories that we would do well to remember. In my book, Sapphistries: A Global History of Love between Women (2009), I begin with imagined prehistories and do what I can to put between two covers all that we know about women who loved, desired, and made love to other women throughout time and around the globe. One of my favorite online comments about the book called it “lurid and steamy,” which I consider high praise indeed.

Such a history, far from pointing to lesbians in different times and places or making us proud about how far we have come, reminds us that there is no linear trajectory from the bad old days to the present. In fact, in the contemporary world, all the ways that women in the past found to express their desire and love—from finding one another in sex-segregated spaces to falling in love with co-wives to marrying one another legally to crossing the gender line to embracing masculine-feminine pairings to falling in love with their friends—coexist with meeting in a bar or online or at a Pride march.

So as we celebrate the newer possibilities of changing sex, of rejecting binary gender, of embracing pansexual or fluid identity, let us remember that there is a long history behind all these possibilities that is far more complicated than we might think. We have a lot to be proud about this Pride season, but we also need to be humble in recognition of all the different varieties of desire and love out there. Imagine celebrating with Amazons, with Sappho, with Walladah bint Al-Mustakfi (the “Arab Sappho”), with nuns and witches, with manly women and female husbands, with roaring girls and aristocratic tribades, with sworn sisters and sweet doganas, with schoolgirls in love, with Parisian salonnières, with German girlfriends, with African mummies and babies, with Thai toms and dees, with Indonesian tombois, with Afro-Surinamese mati.  And imagine what they all would, or would not, make of each other.

Leila J. Rupp is professor of feminist studies and associate dean of the division of social sciences at the University of California. She is the author of Sapphistries: A Global History of Love between Women, a 2011 NYU Press publication.

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Intersexuality and Why it Matters This Pride Month

—Julie A. Greenberg

During Pride month, the LGBT community may want to consider the critical issues facing members of the intersex community, a group with similar and overlapping concerns. Although the issues facing people with an intersex condition are not identical to those of their LGBT cousins, the discrimination suffered by both groups stems from similar societal stereotypes about sex, gender, and sexual orientation.

People with an intersex condition (a.k.a. Difference of Sex Development or DSD) have a congenital condition in which their sex chromosomes, gonads, or internal or external sexual anatomy do not fit clearly into the binary male/female norm. Some intersex conditions involve an inconsistency between a person’s internal and external sexual features. For example, some people with an intersex condition may have female-appearing external genitalia and testicles, but no internal female organs. Other people with an intersex condition may be born with genitalia that do not appear to be clearly male or female. For example, a girl may be born with a larger than average clitoris and no vagina. Similarly, a boy may be born with a small penis and a divided scrotum that resembles labia. Some people with an intersex condition may also be born with a chromosomal pattern that does not fall into the XX/XY norm.

Most experts agree that approximately 1–2 percent of people are born with sexual features that vary from the medically defined norm for male and female. Approximately one in 1,500 to one in 2,000 births involves a child who is born with genitalia so noticeably atypical that a specialist in sex differentiation is consulted and surgical alteration is considered.

Society and legal institutions frequently confuse intersexuality and transgenderism and inappropriately conflate the discrete concepts of sex, sexual orientation, gender role, gender presentation, and gender identity. Typically, men are presumed to have male anatomy, to be sexually attracted to females, to fulfill male roles and masculine, and to self-identify as men. Women are presumed to have female anatomy, to be sexually attracted to men, to be caregiving and feminine, and to self-identify as women. These presumptions are not true for millions of people and they are being challenged by people with an intersex condition, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, feminists, transgender people, and men and women who do not conform to gender stereotypes.

The existence of people with an intersex condition whose bodies combine aspects of male and female anatomy provides a perfect rhetorical device for challenging traditional notions of sex, gender, and sexual orientation. Because intersex bodies fail to fit neatly into the traditional male/female construct, intersexuality can be used to call into question our basic notions of what it means to be a man or a woman.

If we cannot easily establish what makes a man a man or a woman a woman, feminists can assert that the rationale for any sex-based distinctions is seriously undermined. Furthermore, if society cannot straightforwardly differentiate men from women, then gays, lesbians, and bisexuals can argue that same-sex relationships cannot be legitimately condemned. Finally, if gender identity does not necessarily develop in concert with sexual anatomy, then transgender people’s claims for legal recognition of their self-identified gender are bolstered. In other words, the existence of people with an intersex condition can be used to advance equality claims by feminists, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people. When members of the LGBT community rely on the existence of people with an intersex condition to bolster their equality claims, however, they must be sensitive to the effect these arguments may have on members of the intersex community.

In Intersexuality and the Law: Why Sex Matters, I examine potential legal theories intersex activists could use to challenge current medical protocols for the treatment of infants with a DSD that have led to life-long physical and emotional trauma. The book also explores how the intersex movement could form mutually beneficial alliances with LGBT groups, as well as with feminists and disability rights activists.

Julie A. Greenberg is an internationally recognized expert on the legal issues relating to sex and gender identity. She is Professor of Law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and the author of Intersexuality and the Law: Why Sex Matters, published by NYU Press in 2012.

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It Is Getting Better—Even in the Bible Belt

—Bernadette Barton

LGBT folks have much to celebrate this Pride season: the repeal of the military policy Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, marriage equality in New York, the public apology of psychiatrist Robert Spitzer for his flawed findings on ex-gay reparative therapies, and, most thrillingly, President Barack Obama’s support of same-sex marriage. National survey data indicate that U.S. citizens are rapidly becoming more supportive of gay rights—even in Bible Belt red states like Kentucky, where I live.

But with change comes backlash and, sometimes, noisy condemnation. One such example is North Carolina Baptist Pastor Charles Worley, who made news headlines in May 2012 after a YouTube video of one of his sermons went viral. In it, he advocates concentration camps for homosexuals, preaching, “I figured out a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers. Build a great, big, large fence fifty or a hundred miles long. Put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals. And have that fence electrified so they can’t get out. And you know what, in a few years they’ll die out. Do you know why? They can’t reproduce.”

Pastor’s Worley’s homophobic comments, although extreme, reflect the ideologies of some conservative Christians. Those same sentiments emerge in the regional context of what I call in my book, Pray the Gay Away: The Extraordinary Lives of Bible Belt Gays, as “Bible Belt Christianity.” Although there may be much wiggle room amongst individual Christians in their personal relationships with gay people, Bible Belt Christianity encourages both “compulsory Christianity”—communicative exchanges that involve presenting one’s Christian identity to others in routine social interactions—and the framing of homosexuality as sinful.

Fundamentalists like Pastor Worley interpret their beliefs within a total system that allows no shades of gray. For them, homosexuality is unsanctified, and those engaging in same-sex behavior are sinners. Cracking open their belief system a tiny bit to accommodate gay people means the dissolution of their religious structure, and the prospect of facing a great, cavernous unknowing about deep moral questions of good and evil, as well about the afterlife. While most conservative Christians would not promote violence against another person—like putting gay people in concentration camps—most do participate in religious groups that construct the behavior of an entire group of people as an abomination.

It is likely that Pastor Worley’s sermon was partly motivated by the anti-gay marriage amendment on the North Carolina ballot this past May. North Carolina was the latest state to pass an anti-gay marriage ballot amendment, and the last of the Bible Belt states to constitutionally amend one—Kentuckians successfully voted to ban same-sex marriage during the 2004 presidential election season. The Bible Belt gays featured in my book spoke extensively about the heartache and divisiveness caused by anti-gay ballot amendments. For a gay person, seeing political ads, billboards, newspaper op-eds, and lawn signs announcing a homophobic opinion on gay rights is extremely stressful. While an anti-gay lawn sign is not personally directed against any specific individual, running across them is still intimidating and distressing for a gay person, and can be perceived as a justification of homophobic attitudes in those who, like Pastor Worley, hold them. But what has shifted since 2004—and what is deserving of our appreciation this Pride month—is how homophobic comments like those of Pastor Worley are interpreted in public conversations in major media outlets and on social networking sites.

First of all, gay issues are covered today. Every other day it seems—and, sometimes every day—there is a new story on gay rights. Second, homophobic speech, like the sermon Pastor Worley gave, draws much condemnation. Rather than passing it as “business-as-usual, of course it’s disgusting—we don’t even need to talk about it,” people, even in the Bible Belt, are noticing and talking about the injustices gay people face. And, finally, arguments against same-sex marriage—like the ones that the conservative Christian group American Family Association makes about how allowing people of the same sex to marry opens the door for people to marry their dog, horse or cousin—sound even more ludicrous in 2012, because, well, how would a dog sign a legal contract?

Bible Belt gays are uniquely positioned to observe gradual improvements in homophobic attitudes. On the front lines of the culture wars in the United States, Bible Belt gays have hard-won insights to share with gay people from more politically progressive regions of the United States. It’s not only because the lives of Bible Belt gays illustrate the maxim—having endured much, they are stronger for it—but because the personal work required of gay people in the Bible Belt to line up with each other in the face of preachers like Charles Worley makes them more powerful and independent. As Terry, a 29-year-old white lesbian from eastern Kentucky explained, “We speak fundamentalist Christianity. We are interpreters and liaisons. We know that fundamentalists are not crazy. They are wrong. And there is a difference.”

The good part about framing conservative Christians as “wrong” instead of “crazy” is that wrong is more malleable. Pastor Worley may not easily recognize the “wrongness” intrinsic to his belief system, but many other Bible Belt Christians are slowly changing their perceptions of homosexuality. As gay issues continue to get press, as gay people and same-sex relationships are represented in positive ways in the media, as gayness itself becomes more familiar—even for the rural heterosexual who may have never met an openly gay person—we as a culture are getting more used to gay life. And that is something worth celebrating.

Bernadette Barton is Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky. She is the author Stripped: Inside the Lives of Exotic Dancers (NYU Press, 2006) and Pray the Gay Away: The Extraordinary Lives of Bible Belt Gays, to be released by NYU Press in October 2012.

»»»  Happy Pride from NYU Press! Save 25% on LGBT Studies titles when you order via our website. Simply enter promo code DIVER12 online during check out or call 800.996.6987. Offer ends on July 1, 2012.

Before and After Marriage Equality

—Thomas A. Foster

Marriage equality may be a modern concept but same-gender love, of course, is no recent phenomenon. Writing in 1779, Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the treasury whose face now adorns the ten dollar bill, wrote to John Laurens “I wish, my Dear Laurens, it m[ight] be in my power, by action rather than words, [to] convince you that I love you.” Such heartfelt expressions of love between intimates of the same gender were not uncommon in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Some early Americans also desired to spend their lives with members of the same gender. In my book, Long Before Stonewall, we look at Sarah Pierce, the founder of the Litchfield Female Academy—the first institution of higher learning for women in the country—who envisioned a life with Abigail Smith. With Abigail and her sister one night in 1792, when the three were drawing pictures of their future houses, Sarah chose instead to write a poem about her life with Abigail. She enjoyed the lesbian poetry of English Romantic poet Anna Seward, and, as Lisa L. Moore explains, her poem was rich with erotic imagery and poignantly ended with the two buried next to one another, together for eternity. Abigail went on to marry but Sarah never did.

Until quite recently, those who loved members of the same gender expressed their love in the terms that were appropriate for their time, as enduring friendships, or they remained silent and in secret about it. Those who established households together did so discreetly if at all. Many faced isolation while others paid a price for visibility.

History tells us that marriage equality for gays and lesbians will one day be a reality in the U.S. It’s true that, at the state level, anti-equality activists have won. In recent years, thirty states passed constitutional amendments while another dozen have statutes banning marriage equality. A minority of the fifty states—just six—have endorsed marriage equality. But federal recognition of gay and lesbian marriages will eventually come—and will need to come–from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Just less than a decade ago, President George W. Bush lent his support to an amendment to the United States Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. The recent Obama administration decision to no longer enforce the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a legislation which also defined marriage as an act between a man and a woman, and the much-talked about interview in which President Obama voiced his personal support for marriage equality, have evidenced the importance of the upcoming presidential election. With the announcement regarding DOMA, the Obama administration has potentially moved the issue in the Supreme Court’s direction.

California’s ban on marriage equality, Prop 8, could also be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to revisit the case, setting the stage for a Supreme Court hearing. No one can say for certain when and how marriage equality will be won but future generations of Americans will one day enjoy the rights currently exercised in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden.  We were also way behind the rest of the world in abolishing slavery and in granting women the right to vote, so marriage equality is in good company in terms of delayed justice issues in this country.

Gaining marriage equality will be an historic victory but it will not be a simple one. It will also usher in the predictable wave of violent backlash and political and culture wars that gays and lesbians have sadly come to expect to pay for every victory. And it will not mark a turning point in same-gender relationships. Those have been occurring without legal or cultural sanction as the LGBTQ communities have never needed permission to forge their own families.

Thomas A. Foster is Chair of the Department of History at DePaul University. He is the editor of New Men: Manliness in Early America (NYU Press 2011) and Long Before Stonewall: Histories of Same-Sex Sexuality in Early America (NYU Press 2007).

»»»  Happy Pride from NYU Press! Save 25% on Long Before Stonewall, and other LGBT Studies titles, when you order via our website. Simply enter promo code DIVER12 online during check out, or call 800.996.6987. Offer ends on July 1, 2012.

LGBT Parenthood and the Law

—Carlos A. Ball

A pioneering federal lawsuit filed earlier this month by the ACLU in North Carolina encapsulates both the progress and the challenges faced by LGBT parents in our country. As I explain in my book The Right to Be Parents, the nation has come a long way in recognizing that parenting is not an exclusively heterosexual endeavor. As recently as thirty years ago, becoming a parent, much like marrying someone of the same sex, was simply not within the realm of the possible for most openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. Today there are tens of thousands of proud and open LGBT parents experiencing the joys and challenges of raising children.

Some of the laws of even relatively conservative states like North Carolina reflect the growing acceptance of LGBT parenting. Foster care regulations in North Carolina, for example, prohibit child welfare officials from taking sexual orientation into account in deciding which homes are suitable for foster parenting. In addition, the North Carolina Supreme Court in 2010 held that a lesbian woman was entitled to seek custody and visitation of the child she was raising with the biological mother after the couple’s relationship dissolved. The court appropriately recognized that an unmarried individual who participates in the decision to have a child, and who helps care for that child as a parent, is entitled to have continued contact with the child even if her relationship with the biological parent ends.

In its ruling, however, the court also held that someone in that situation is not entitled to adopt the child without first terminating the legal parent’s rights. In contrast, married heterosexuals are permitted to adopt their spouses’ children without first terminating the spouses’ parental rights. The result is that North Carolina law does not fully recognize both members of same-sex couples as legal parents, even if they have shared parenting responsibilities for years. It is this unequal aspect of North Carolina parenting law that led to the ACLU’s constitutional challenge.

There are several aspects of this lawsuit that are potentially ground-breaking. This is the first time that a ban on second-parent adoption has been challenged in court on federal constitutional grounds. Federal courts in the last few years have repeatedly questioned the constitutionality of laws — like the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the now repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell statute — that treat individuals differently because of their sexual orientation. There is a good chance that the federal courts will also be skeptical of the notion that whether children have two legal parents should depend on the adults’ sexual orientation.

The ACLU lawsuit is also important because it raises a constitutional equality challenge on behalf of not only the lesbians and gay men who are not permitted to adopt under North Carolina law, but also the children involved. As I explain in my book, what is ultimately at stake in LGBT parenting cases is not the rights of adults, but is instead the well-being of children. It should be obvious that legally denying an entire category of children the opportunity to have two legal parents undermines rather than promotes their best interests.

Lawsuits like the one filed by the ACLU in North Carolina are playing crucial roles in protecting the interests of the thousands of children being raised by LGBT individuals across the country. It is only a matter of time before the full and equal legal recognition of LGBT families becomes a reality.

Carlos A. Ball is Professor of Law and Judge Frederick Lacey Scholar at Rutgers University (Newark) and the author of The Right to Be Parents: LGBT Families and the Transformation of Parenthood, which was published by NYU Press last month.

»»»  Happy Pride from NYU Press! Save 25% on Carlos Ball’s book, and other LGBT Studies titles, when you order via our website. Simply enter promo code DIVER12 online during check out, or call 800.996.6987. Offer ends on July 1, 2012.

Table for one: Are singles the new sexual minority?

To celebrate Pride 2012, we’re offering a series of brand new columns from a few of our authors of LGBT Studies books, on a slew of topics ranging from marriage to parenthood to religion to the new sexual minority: the single. To kick off the Pride series, below is an excerpt from Maclean’s interview with Michael Cobb, author of Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled.

Q: [In your book,] you talk about all the classic indignities of the single life: the wedding invitations with “and guest,” the puzzlement when you go alone to a restaurant—all of it ongoing even while the world changes. The growth in people living by themselves is remarkable and yet there’s no language, no narrative to reflect this.

A: When I’m with my busiest friends, I’m thinking how we actually are more in relationships with our technology than each other, people staring at iPhones or BlackBerrys, to the point that I think, “Okay, something else is happening here, we are removed, we have other ways of associating.” Somehow we are often actually more comfortable associating with people far away than beside us. I’m not lamenting that, I’m just saying that it’s a dynamic that is happening, but the old grand narratives about how you belong to a culture and a world, a society, haven’t changed. There has been an extraordinary amount of singles studies that have appeared in the last year or so. The cover story for the Atlantic in November, written by a friend of mine, Kate Bolick, called “All the single ladies,” pointed out that sometimes successful women don’t want to get married, even in their late 30s. You start a conversation on this and you find a swell of support from people saying, “Yes, this is exactly what I experience myself.” Many single people are craving some kind of language, some kind of analysis that says you do not have to do this thing: married, children, retirement.

Q: Does the gay community bring a particular insight or emphasis to this?

A: It’s been very interesting to watch what has happened to gay politics in the last decade or so. Marriage equality—especially in the States—became the major focus. In Canada, we got it relatively quickly, and it wasn’t traumatic—the sky didn’t fall. But it shows the power of the couple idea. Sexual minorities felt like, “Okay, one way that we are constantly officially delegitimized is because we are not able to marry,” and it’s true. I’m appreciative of that desire to correct that civil wrong, but on the other hand it still proclaims the most legitimizing thing you can be is married, which will enable the rest of the world to say, okay, now you can inherit each other’s property, you can have visitation [rights], you can make stable custodial arrangements for the children. I don’t know if a lot of people have done enough thinking about this. Why is the couple and very official couple-making the goal we’re all driving toward?

Q: Your argument goes further, though—it is a polemic, after all: coupledom doesn’t just overwhelm singleness or isn’t always as perfect as claimed, it’s actually often toxic.

A: Coupledom shrinks the world. I use that language deliberately because being part of a couple is the thing that’s supposed to save you, as it does at the end of almost every single romantic comedy. I’m not saying people don’t have wonderful, large, fantastic relationships, but they are also anxiety-producing. They do shrink the world. You have fewer friends, you have fewer opportunities to go out in the world and explore and have all sorts of intimacies and associations and friendships and activities. Some people really like that, but I don’t think it’s much better than any other kind of situation. I’m trying to knock it off its hierarchy a little bit.

[Read the full interview: http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/06/20/the-stigma-of-being-single-the-lack-of-role-models-and-how-coupledom-shrinks-the-world/]

Cobb goes beyond debunking popular myths of the single life here; and in his 2007 South Atlantic Quarterly article, “Lonely,” he speculated how singles might fit into queer theory:

Not too long ago, at a queer conference, I toyed with the notion of attaching the letter S to the LGBTQ acronym (LGBTQS) so I could affiliate those who are “single” with the ever-elongating list of nonmajority sexualities. I was hoping to provoke serious reflection on why “relationships” and “coupledom” were often the most important objects of my fields of study. I wanted to inquire why there was always the demand to be oriented toward sustained, intimate relationships, especially since the single felt (and still feels) like one of the most despised sexual minority positions one could be.

What do you think? Does society really view singles as lonely half-people in constant search for a partner? Why is ‘coupledom’ considered unquestionably better than ‘singledom’—or isn’t it? Share your thoughts with us in our comments section!

Michael Cobb is Professor of English at the University of Toronto. He is the author of  Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled (forthcoming in July) and God Hates Fags: The Rhetorics of Religious Violence, also published by New York University Press.

»»»  Happy Pride from NYU Press! Save 25% on these and other LGBT Studies books when you order via our website. Simply enter promo code DIVER12 online during check out, or call 800.996.6987. Offer ends on July 1, 2012.

LGBT Pride Round-up

We take serious pride in our diverse collection of LGBT studies books (and authors). So, in honor of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, we put together a dynamic list of blog posts from the past year on #LGBT topics of relevance–from marriage to parenthood, culture to religion. If you particularly enjoy a piece or think that we missed something important, please let us know in the comments!

Papa’s got a brand new outlook on gay marriage
Oneka LaBennett, author of She’s Mad Real, reflects on the role of Obama’s daughters in his recent endorsement of same-sex marriage 

Life as a gay father: Neil Patrick Harris opens up to Oprah
Abbie Goldberg on what NPH, and her new book, can teach us about gay parenting and the “new nuclear family”

Why men can be mothers too (Huffington Post)
Reflecting on Mother’s Day, Carlos A. Ball, author of The Right to Be Parents, reminds us to think of ‘mother’ as a verb, not a noun

Spring staff picks: Torah Queeries and One Marriage Under God
NYU Press interns use forthcoming books as the backdrop for stories of “performing” Judaism, & making sense of our fascination with ’til-death-do-us-part

Marriage equality: Where do marriage promotion policies fit?
Melanie Heath, author of One Marriage Under God, discusses DOMA and new pro-marriage policies that advocate education workshops and incentives for poor couples

Reading gay culture at the Lesbian Herstory Archives
An NYU Press staffer stumbles upon hidden treasures of gay history (lesbian pulp fiction, rare gay-rights posters from the 1980s, etc.) in Park Slope

Will marriage change gay people? 
New York legalizes it! From the Square celebrates with an excerpt from M.V. Lee Badgett’s classic & award-winning book, When Gay People Get Married

»»»  Stay tuned for more featured LGBT blog posts! Also, we’re offering our 25% off on our favorite new and classic books from our LGBT collection through the rest of June. Find out more here: http://nyupress.org/news-events/news-events.aspx