Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2017-07-19
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

BOOK REVIEW Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing All Families under the Law
Special to the Online Edition
by Yasmin Nair
2008-04-23

facebook twitter del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


Written by Nancy D. Polikoff. $24.95; Beacon Press; 259 pages

Vega, a lesbian, left her job to move with her partner, Mala, to Washington. She remained uninsured for five months as she looked for employment; Mala's job didn't provide her any insurance because they weren't married.

Proponents of gay marriage claim that such cases prove why gays should be allowed to marry—in order to access their partners' benefits. Nancy Polikoff debunks that logic in the simplest terms: 'Marriage is not the solution. ... The solution is universal health care.'

We have reached a point where the feminist-queer critique of marriage is barely a distant memory. Polikoff points out that, 'The shift is so pervasive that the generation of gay and straight young adults who have grown up during the culture war over same-sex marriage has no idea that the gay rights movement was once part of coalition efforts to make marriage matter less.'

Over the last few years, there has been wider resistance to gay marriage in the queer community. Many among us have argued that marriage shouldn't be the guarantor of something as basic as health care, and that queer commitment is no more special than the worlds that the uncoupled have created for themselves. They can now resort to Nancy Polikoff's detailed book for supporting counterarguments against the gay marriage crowd, as well as ways in which to craft a system that guarantees basics like health care to everybody, not just the coupled and married.

Beyond ( Straight and Gay ) Marriage is also a history of how marriage, in the United States, came to represent much more than a social or emotional bond. Given her background ( as a professor of law at American University Washington College of Law ) , Polikoff's more comfortable with legal argument than cultural analysis, but the book is lively and accessible to a general reader. Given the gay marriage movement's constant use of emotion; panic; and charges of homophobia to bolster support for its cause, her legal depth is both timely and important.

Polikoff takes her microscope to every conceivable situation raised by the gay-marriage crowd, and shows what solutions ( like domestic partnerships that don't privilege straight or gay ) might have worked already, and what others could be crafted. She reminds us that the gay marriage movement frequently echoes the Right's agenda about an institution which only grants more powers to the state and patriarchy. So, for instance, gay marriage supporters insist that marriage would mean that their children could grow up in loving and stable homes. How is that any different from the Right's relentless argument that single mothers and unmarried people will bring about civilization's end?

It would be one thing if marriage were simply part of the ordinary social relations through which people carry on their lives. The problem begins when so much else of the state's benefits only go to those who are married. Canada, it turns out, isn't just the Shangri-La to the north of us with universal health care. Since 2002, Alberta residents have been able to avail of something called the Adult Interdependent Act, where two people in a close relationship ( friends, for instance ) may designate each other as decision-makers in the case of organ and tissue donation, or receive each other's extended healthcare benefits. And all that's without a sexual relationship between them. Through a myriad such examples, Polikoff shows why it's necessary to separate marriage from the state's responsibilities.

Ultimately, Polikoff tends to privilege institutions like the family and non-profits over and locates resistance only in their terms, as in her mantra that we need to respect all families. While she's occasionally critical of Lambda Legal and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in their support of gay marriage, she doesn't extend that critique too far. Yet, these two key queer organizing groups, which supposedly present a progressive alternative to Human Rights Commission on, have greatly enabled the gay marriage agenda and that speaks to the role such organizations play in contemporary queer politics.

Meanwhile, queer independent groups like San Francisco's Gay Shame or individuals like Mattilda Sycamore Bernstein, who go unmentioned in her book, have constantly resisted that agenda—most significantly in response to Mayor Gavin Newsom, whose politics around marriage disguised his conservative politics around gentrification. Given its deep embededness in formal institutions ( like the law! ) , this is a neoliberal book, but it's also an important critique of the idea that marriage should organize our lives and our access to the basics.

Nancy Polikoff is appearing at Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark, Thurs., April 24, at 7:30 p.m.

Yasmin Nair can be reached at welshzen@yahoo.com . She also blogs at www.bilerico.com .


facebook twitter del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

BOOK Raising the Transgender Child 2017-07-19
BOOKS Steven Gaines explores memories in 'One of These Things First' 2017-07-19
W&CF event revolves around author Gwendolyn Brooks 2017-07-19
W&CF hosts poetry event 'How To Get Over' 2017-07-18
Lesbian Maj. Margaret Witt to release book on her military trial 2017-07-18
BOOK REVIEW Off the Rocks, Vol. 20 2017-07-12
BOOKS Brandon Hayes turns his camera toward U.S. parks 2017-07-12
BOOK REVIEW James Baldwin: The FBI File 2017-07-12
BOOK REVIEW The Harmony of Parts 2017-07-05
Alphawood Gallery debuts internment exhibition 2017-07-05
BOOKS Clinton Kelly talks love and 'Hate' 2017-07-05
Roxane Gay talks 'Hunger' at CHF 2017-07-05
BOOKS Nathaniel Frank chronicles the road to marriage equality 2017-06-28
W&CF bookstore makes HuffPo list 2017-06-21
Entire 'Boystown' series to be released 2017-06-21
BOOKS 'In Bed' with activist Anne-christine d'Adesky 2017-06-21
BOOK REVIEW Game Changers: The Unsung Heroines of Sports History 2017-06-21
BOOKS 'Ghosts of St. Vincent's': A talk with Tom Eubanks 2017-06-21
BOOK REVIEW/ INTERVIEW Jews, Queers, Germans: A Novel 2017-06-21
Libraries marking GLBT Book Month 2017-06-21
BOOK REVIEW Either Way 2017-06-21
St. Sukie de la Croix novel out in July 2017-06-21
Book calls for LGBTQ2S-specific approach to youth homelessness 2017-06-18
Dan Savage in Chicago June 15 2017-06-13
Journey of a Cotton Blossom 2017-06-13
BOOKS Well-'Dunne': Author on life of legendary writer/producer 2017-06-13
Foundation releases 'Dogs & Daddies' 2017-06-07
Chicago writer researching Tillie the Dirty Old Lady, other Chicago LGBT stories 2017-06-07
BOOKS Janet Mock paves way for LGBTQ storytellers 2017-06-07
Feminist bookstore Women & Children First has Pride all month 2017-05-26
Winners named for Dr. James Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize 2017-05-24
GUEST COLUMN On I Am Not Your Negro 2017-05-24
'Freedom to Marry' shows Evan Wolfson as marriage architect 2017-05-24
Loving Oliver Sacks and the city: Bill Hayes' new memoir 2017-05-24
BOOK REVIEW Edges of the Rainbow: LGBTQ Japan 2017-05-24
Melt, Yates win Markowitz Award 2017-05-24
Levithan wins literary prize 2017-05-24
Clinton to speak at ALA conference 2017-05-23
BOOKS 'Doll Parts': Talking with Amanda Lepore 2017-05-17
OUT! Chicago, Illinois LGBTQ Visitor's Guide available 2017-05-09
 



Copyright © 2017 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.