Windy City Media Group Frontpage News Home
CELEBRATING 28+ YEARS OF Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender NEWS

Search Gay News Articles
Advanced Search
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2014-07-23
Download Issue
  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime

Dining news: RIVA's Bloody Mary bar; restaurant awards Dining news: RIVA's Bloody Mary bar; restaurant awards
—Navy Pier's RIVA Crab House announces a new brunch menu available every ...

Browse Gay News Index   Browse Gay News Archives
  Windy City Times    Download PDF Issue

Historian Kevin Mumford talks gay rights, civil rights
by Craig Chamberlain, Univ. of illinois at Urbana-Champaign
2013-08-21

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email
Kevin Mumford. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer


Note: The U.S. Supreme Court handed down two decisions at the end of June favoring gay marriage. One ruling struck down federal restrictions in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) of 1996, the other cleared the way for gay marriages in California.

With the rapid recent progress of the gay-rights movement, including changes in public attitudes, some see parallels with the earlier African-American civil-rights movement. Is the comparison valid? What's different this time? Illinois history professor Kevin Mumford specializes in the history of both movements, and is working on a book about Black gay history. He spoke with News Bureau social sciences editor Craig Chamberlain.

Craig Chamberlain: You say that some gay rights advocates want to characterize recent events as the normal business of America doing civil rights—to see continuity with the Black civil-rights movement. But what's flawed in that comparison?

Kevin Mumford: First, it is easy to forget the context and duration of the civil rights movement. After the Civil War, African-Americans had full citizenship, elected local and federal representatives, and then, through violence and fraud, were stripped of voting rights. Modern civil rights activists struggled for 30 years to regain this lost world of citizenship. By contrast, advocates of gay marriage had much more legal and institutional resources at their disposal.

Second, the level of violence opposing Black civil rights was unprecedented. In the 1950s, white southerners attacked, tortured and murdered civil rights activists and the federal government failed to intervene. A new prize-winning book, "At the Dark End of the Street," by Danielle McGuire, documents extensive sexual violence against Black women, and new research in the FBI files documents physical abuse by police to coerce confessions and intimidate activists. When demonstrators and leaders demanded more protection from President Kennedy in the early 1960s, he often reneged on his promises. So, I would agree that gay marriage became a grassroots movement, but the level of resistance to change and the role of the executive branch were strikingly different.

CC: In the history of Black civil rights, there also was a famous marriage case, the Loving case of 1967, in which the Supreme Court struck down all state laws against interracial marriage. This case, however, did not come early in the process, but instead after the movement's key years (1954-65) and the key pieces of civil rights legislation. Why?

KM: Early on civil rights attorneys advised against litigating on the marriage question because of its controversial nature. The NAACP even worried when their lead attorney, Thurgood Marshall, married an Asian-American woman. Southern opponents often held up the specter of intermarriage to provoke racial animosities—claiming that what advocates of desegregation really desired was to marry white women.

Given this volatility, it is not too surprising that the Loving case was relatively late. At the same time, looking around campus or Chicago almost 50 years later, I don't think people really even notice interracial couples any longer. The taboo has fallen—perhaps this will happen with gay and lesbian relations.

CC: The Supreme Court's Brown decision in 1954, which called for the desegregation of schools, is often credited with being a catalyst for the civil rights movement that followed. Do you think these recent decisions could play a similar role for gay rights?

KM: There is a debate on the importance of the Brown decision—some historians question its significance, point to its failure as policy, or feel that it narrowed the scope of Black activism. I don't entirely agree. Recent scholarship shows that into the 1960s all kinds of local groups, and Black youth in particular, were inspired to demand further integration of amusement parks, swimming pools, ice rinks, etc. Brown was historic in the way that the Windsor case striking down DOMA is historic. The symbolism of the case—along with Justice (Anthony) Kennedy's impassioned denouncement of harm and humiliation—will inspire further mobilization and legitimate sexual equality.

CC: You note that only a few years ago gay marriage was not a popular cause among many gay advocates and intellectuals. Why? And has that since changed?

I think some academics and activists viewed the marriage movement as elitist and as assimilationist. It seemed to prioritize the concerns of the middle-class—reforming rules for inheritance, for example—and to privilege straight or mainstream values. Activists worried that the litigation on marriage had sidetracked other long-standing causes: to stop street violence, defamation, bullying and discrimination in employment, for example.

Yet I feel that when the opponents of gay marriage questioned the morality of same-sex relationships and parenting they also revealed their prejudice against being gay. So, in the end, in ways that few would have predicted a decade ago, taking up the issue of marriage equality has helped to confer a broader social legitimacy. I think we'll see more respect for gays and lesbians both within our communities and in society at large.


facebook twitter pin it 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.

Sneyers prepares for '15 mayoral challenge 2014-07-27
Rob Ford says he's not anti-gay; Glee trouble in UK 2014-07-22
Bill T. Jones among Obama honorees 2014-07-22
John D'Emilio: Renowned professor, historian retires 2014-07-22
'Live The Wage Challenge' issued to Congress: Try living it 2014-07-22
Obama signs order protecting federal employees from bias 2014-07-21
Black LGBT trailblazers; Maddow talks Perry; ENDA debate 2014-07-16
World news: Conchita Wurst models; Ian Thorpe comes out 2014-07-16
History made, honored in annual Ride For AIDS Chicago 2014-07-13
Equality Illinois calls on Rauner to return DeVos contributions 2014-07-11
Laverne Cox makes Emmy history 2014-07-10
PASSAGES: Former U.S. Sen. Alan Dixon dies 2014-07-09
Tim Cook at Pride Parade; LGBT groups won't back ENDA 2014-07-08
Gay team makes history; Laverne Cox tops world list 2014-07-08
Mich. gubernatorial candidate Schauer talks LGBT rights 2014-07-08
NGLTF withdraws support of ENDA 2014-07-08
National news 2014-07-02
Putin refuses Elton John; USAID, Nat'l Gay Chamber partner 2014-07-01
Obama announces ban on trans bias for federal employees 2014-06-30
Renslow, history honored at pre-Pride variety show 2014-06-27
Protesters decry Rauner's marriage views 2014-06-26
Gov. Quinn signs anti-bullying bill 2014-06-26
Chicagoans visit Dominican Republic as LGBT-rights advocates 2014-06-25
9 of 12 LGBT candidates advance in primaries 2014-06-25
World news: Developments in Uganda; Luxembourg passes marriage 2014-06-24
LGBT-rights activists in Uganda, Thailand talk situation 2014-06-24
Harvey Milk stamp unveiled at COH legal forum 2014-06-20
Street named in honor of merchant-activist Herrington 2014-06-19
State's Attorney hosts LGBT pride event 2014-06-19
LGBT groups band against ENDA's religious exemption 2014-06-18
Trans GOP candidate prevails in Nevada 2014-06-18
Canada gets first openly gay premier 2014-06-18
Internat'l defense act; Canada's gay premier; Mr. World 2014-06-18
Phelps relative poses for NOH8; gay groups back Crist 2014-06-18
Remarks by President Obama at DNC LGBT Gala 2014-06-18
Reps say they'll be mindful of exemption 2014-06-16
NEIU protests over Walesa building continue 2014-06-15
Senate: Support bill to create top diplomat on LGBT issues 2014-06-13
HRC to Secretary Kerry: old Uganda accountable 2014-06-12
119 members of Congress call for end to talks with Brunei 2014-06-12





Copyright © 2014 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.

 

 

 



 

John D'Emilio: Renowned professor, historian retires
 
TransPride beach party draws more than 400
 
Report: PrEP 90% effective with just a few doses per week
 
'An Evening of Magic' to benefit AFC
 
Meiling Jin on growing up in China, celebrity, LGBT journalism
 
Windy City Times Current DownloadNightspots Current DownloadQueercast Current Download
Windy City Media Group BlogsJoin Our Email List!Donate Now



  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime



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      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video      News Videos      Nightspots Videos      Entertainment Videos      Queercast Videos      Comedy Videos     
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.