Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I'll be speaking later this month at a conference at UCLA called, "State of the Union: Marriage in the Shadow of Electoral Politics." It's sponsored by the Center for the Study of Women, with co-sponsorship by, among others, the Williams Institute, the country's pre-eminent gay rights research center.

If you're familiar with my book you don't need to come to hear me, but some of the other speakers are less well known outside academia than they should be. So if you can get to LA, you might want to come by to hear them.

Take Cornell government professor Anna Marie Smith. She's been decrying so-called "welfare reform" for its policing of female sexuality. Along with Martha Fineman and Gwendolyn Mink, she wrote, "No Promotion of Marriage in TANF [Temporary Assistance to Needy Families]," a critique of the Bush administration's emphasis on marriage promotion. Two chapters of her book, Welfare Reform and Sexual Regulation, the introduction and the chapter "Feminist Visions," can be read on her website.

At the conference, Professor Smith will be critiquing Barack Obama's "responsible fatherhood" initiatives. From the first moment I heard Obama speak about such matters, I've been wondering if his vision was any more feminist, any more supportive of single mothers raising children, than the policies of his two predecessors. I'm looking forward to finding out.

NYU sociology professor Judith Stacey will speak at the conference about the relationship between legal recognition of same-sex marriage and legal recognition of polygamy. Professor Stacey is a strong feminist and a long-time supporter of LGBT families. She has testified as an expert witness in support of same-sex marriage and in support of gay and lesbian parenting. She bucked conventional wisdom some years back when, in a co-authored article, she questioned the position of gay rights advocates that children raised by lesbians or gay men were no different from those raised by heterosexuals. Instead, she argued that children raised by lesbian and gay parents were indeed likely as a group to show some differences from children raised by heterosexual parents, although she was emphatic that differences did not mean deficits, and she rejected any discrimination against same-sex couples raising children. When right wing groups used her article to oppose LGBT parents, Professor Stacey loudly denounced those groups and their misue of her work.

This time around Professor Stacey will be challenging those in the LGBT community who wish to distance themselves as far as possible from the arguments in support of polygamy, plural marriage, polyamory, or any other non-monogamous form of sexual union. Here's a blog posting that presents some of her ideas.

It's going to be a great day. If you do come, please introduce yourself to me!


Rachel AB said...

Why, oh why, do these things always happen when I already have plans?!? This sounds like a really interesting conference!

I've contacted the organizers to find out if they're recording the conference. I am hoping in this age of podcasts I might be able to attend virtually... I can add another comment if I find out more...

. said...

Please see the link >


Rachel AB said...

I heard back from the conference organizers: "We will be
posting videos of some parts of the conference on our website, but not
the papers." I assume their website is here.

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