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 2017-10-18
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

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

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


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 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

Gay News

ACLU and Lambda Legal Announce Proposed Settlement With North Carolina 2017-10-20 - RALEIGH, N.C. — Transgender people in North Carolina will not be barred from using public restrooms and other facilities that match their gender ...


Gay News

Equality Illinois PAC Endorses Pro-LGBTQ Equality Legislators for 2018 2017-10-20 - CHICAGO—The Equality Illinois PAC is endorsing 32 incumbent legislators in its first round of endorsements as the state heads into the 2018 election ...


Gay News

Rep. Schneider Announces Legislation to Stop Blocking of LGBTQ Resources 2017-10-20 - WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congressman Brad Schneider ( Illinois' 10th District ) announced legislation he will introduce to ensure critical LGBTQ resources are ...


Gay News

Nine Illinois cities in municipal index 2017-10-20 - The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Foundation—the educational arm of the LGBTQ organization—in partnership with the Equality Federation Institute, released its sixth ...


Gay News

HRC: Sessions Tongue-Tied on Indefensible License to Discriminate 2017-10-19 - WASHINGTON, DC — The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) issued the following statement after Attorney General Jeff Sessions failed to answer questions ...


Gay News

Senators criticize Sessions for urging courts to immunize discrimination against LGBTs 2017-10-19 - Washington, DC — Today, Lambda Legal blasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions' testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Senators challenged Sessions' efforts to ...


Gay News

TLDEF Files Brief in Support of Transgender Servicemembers on Military Ban 2017-10-18 - New York, NY- Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund has filed an amicus or "friend of the court" brief with the United States ...


Gay News

Women's March on Chicago to return as 'March to the Polls' 2017-10-18 - Women's March on Chicago, the coalition behind the historic gathering of 250,000 women and their allies this past January, is setting Jan. 20, ...


Gay News

New Study: Attitudes toward gays, lesbians changing in developing world 2017-10-18 - Washington — Today, Center for Global Development Senior Fellow Charles Kenny and Researcher Dev Patel released a new studythat finds that just as ...


Gay News

LGBT HISTORY MONTH Cong. John Lewis on LGBT equality, social justice 2017-10-18 - When President Barack Obama linked Selma, Seneca Falls and Stonewall in his second inaugural address, it was a connection that hit home for ...


 



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

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      Post 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.