Category Archives: LGBTQ

Grammy’s, Gay Marriage, “Same Love”

During the Grammy Awards last night, hip-hop artist and marriage equality advocate Macklemore performed the hit song “Same Love” with Ryan Lewis and Mary Lambert. During the performance, Queen Latifah legally presided over the marriages of thirty-three couples, gay and straight alike. The song then resumed with Madonna transitioning to her song “Open Your Heart.”

As someone who cares deeply and has written academically about marriage equality, I found the performance to be quite moving. It reminded how art can capture dimensions of ongoing public policy debates in ways politicians, lawyers and even advocates often cannot. What struck me is just how apt “Same Love” is in encapsulating the essence of the marriage equality movement. Despite all of the legal arguments and political propaganda surrounding gay marriage, the debate, at bottom, boils down to a simple proposition:

  1. The reason the state, not only permits but, promotes marriage is to encourage love and loving relationships.
  2. Gay couples and straight couples share the “same love” and can enter into the same types of loving relationship.
  3. Therefore, the state should permit and promote same-sex marriage just as it does opposite sex ones.

Although the performance was a strong message of marriage equality, I question whether it was the best medium by which to purvey it. Initially, I was inspired by the performance, but my second thought was “And, the entire state of Kansas just changed the channel.” Making matters worse, the entire first verse of the song calls out “right wing conservatives” being naïve, fear mongering and “paraphrasing” the Bible. However, the marriage equality movement is currently turning its attention to more conservative populations. In the coming months and years, the movement will be attempting to overturn state constitutional amendments banning gay marriage in more conservative party of the country (than say Los Angeles, where the Grammy’s were held).

If the marriage equality movement is to continue to be successful, it must adapt its message in such a way as to appeal to a potentially skeptical audience. Once way in which the music community could assist in this re-branding there was a country version of “Same Love.” In past years, songs such as Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” have been successfully remixed by adding a hip hop element for broader consumption. In this case, the reverse would be appropriate. “Same Love” could be adapted by a country artist (excluding the first verse) for a more targeted audience.

In sum, while this year’s performance of “Same Love” at the Grammy Awards made an important statement (one that could not have been made just a few years ago); what will matter next year, and the years to come, is whether a pro-gay rights song can gain traction in the Country Music Awards. For it will be those who listen to country music and live in more conservative areas that will decide the future marriage equality movement.

This post was originally published on the SLACE Archive. For more public policy related video/audio, be sure to check out the SLACE Archive for daily podcast recommendations.

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January 27, 2014 · 5:59 pm

Tushnet and Eskridge on Same-Sex Marriage Cases

On the most recent episode of Lawyer2Lawyer,

hosts Bob Ambrogi and J. Craig Williams will talk with Constitutional Law Professors Mark Tushnet and William Eskridge about what the history of both the gay rights and the civil rights movements have to say for the future of gay rights in America.

• Harvard Law Professor Mark Tushnet specializes in constitutional law and theory, with a focus in examining the practice of judicial review in the U.S. and worldwide. He has served as a law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall. Currently, his focus is in constitutional history and the development of civil liberties. He is known for his critical and controversial analysis of Supreme Court rulings, including Brown v. The Board of Education and Roe v. Wade.

• William Eskridge, Yale Law Professor, focuses in statutory interpretation. He represented a same-sex-married couple from 1990-1995 who sued for recognition of their marriage and has published many books covering the political framework of gay rights. The historical component of his book GayLaw was the basis of an amicus brief he drafted for the Cato Institute and for much of the Court’s (and dissenting opinion’s) analysis in Lawrence vs. Texas, the decision which made same-sex sexual activity legal in every U.S. state.

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July 19, 2013 · 2:34 pm

Andrew Sullivan on Gay Marriage and SCOTUS Cases

Last Sunday, Fareed Zarakia interviewed Anderew Sullivan about the conservative case for gay marriage and the recent same-sex marriage Supreme Court cases. 

Here is a description of the interview: 

Sullivan: We’re part of families. Gay people don’t – they’re not born under a gooseberry bush in San Francisco and then just unleashed on the country to improve your dinner party conversations and interior design. You know, that’s not what happens. They’re born and bred in Texas, in Oklahoma, in Alabama. And they’re in the military and they’re part of this country’s entire diversity. And they want to be a part of their own families. And they’re more traditional than you realize.

So then began the battle you’re still battling, which is with conservatives.

Sullivan: I think the great disappointment, the great disappointment is that this was a really, in some ways, a conservative argument. This was a minority group seeking responsibility, commitment, pooling resources.  If you’re a couple and something happens to one of you, you have someone else to take care of you, not the government. There’s a really powerful conservative case for this. And so many of the Republican Party just never grappled with it until it was too late.

But in Kennedy, you know, Anthony Kennedy, Reagan appointee, I think you see the last strains of that moderate conservatism, which is, we do have this new emergent population. How do we integrate them? How do we make them part? I don’t want us to have a separate but equal institution in civil unions. And that was the big threat. And then Bush, when he actually endorsed a federal marriage amendment, suddenly the entire gay establishment were like, oh, we’re with you.

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July 5, 2013 · 12:58 pm

Gay Boy Scouts

Here is the BBC’s take on the recent announcement that the Boy Scouts will be permitting openly gay scouts.  

The Boy Scouts of America organisation has voted to welcome openly gay scouts from January 2014, but a ban on openly gay adult scout leaders will remain in place.

At a meeting in Texas, more than 60% of the national council of 1,400 voting members supported the change.

The campaign to overturn the ban pitted conservatives against liberals opposed to what they deem outdated discrimination.

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May 24, 2013 · 8:13 pm

Teen Faces Felony For Lesbian Relationship

Eighteen year old Florida resident Kaitlyn Hunt currently faces fifteen years in prison for her relationship with her sixteen year old girlfriend.   Here is a description of the story: 

Florida teen Kaitlyn Hunt, 18, started dating her 15-year-old girlfriend last year. The older of the two teens,  Kaitlyn, was arrested and subsequently charged with “sexual battery on a person 12-16 years old.” If found guilty of this crime, Kaitlyn could serve up to 15 years in prison and be required to register as a sex offender. But the assistant state attorney offered a deal: if she agrees to 2 years of house arrest and one year of probation, she can forgo trial.

The case has stirred up controversy about the application of this law: is the crime Hunt is being charged with an abuse Florida’s sexual battery law or is the Florida law itself being applied abusively?

It’s impossible to estimate how many Florida teens have violated the sexual battery statute:809,984 teens attend the state’s high schools and it’s certain that thousands of them are sexually active. Kaitlyn’s family believes the law was misapplied to their daughter for discriminatory reasons.

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May 23, 2013 · 9:57 pm

Oxford Scholar on Same-Sex Marriage

Oxford legal philosopher Leslie Green discusses the moral,legal, and philosophical implications of the same-sex marriage debate on the Philosophy Bites podcast.  It is one of the smartest takes on gay marriage that I have heard in awhile.  

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May 11, 2013 · 8:44 pm

“Prop 8 — The Musical”

“Prop 8 — The Musical”

In a star studded video, Funny or Die presents, “Prop 8 — The Musical,” featuring Jack Black, Neil Patrick Harris, Craig Robinson, Lake Bell, Rashida Jones, Kathy Najimy, John C Reilly, Maya Rudolph, Allison Janney, Margaret Cho, Andy Richter, and Sarah Chalke. I know that this video is several years old, but in the wake of Hollingsworth v. Perry, it remains relevant.  The video runs just over three minutes.

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April 5, 2013 · 6:01 pm

Mackelmore, Ryan Lewis, and Sexual Oreintation


In light of the fact that my last post provides an  abstract and intellectual take on the same-sex marriage debate, here is a video that captures the emotional, visceral aspects of the debate.

Special thanks to Andrea Kao for bringing this video to my attention.

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March 29, 2013 · 12:23 pm

Moral Maze: Same-Sex Marriage

This week, same-sex marriage dominated the news with the Supreme Court cases of United v. States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry. The same-sex marriage debate is not unique to the United States, however.  Across the pond, the topic is just as controversial.  Recently, the British House of Commons approved gay marriage with the support of conservative Prime Minister David Cameron.  

If you are passionate about gay rights, this episode  (43 minutes) of the Moral Maze is a must.  It is dry (*cough* British), but it is also the most intelligent debate about same-sex marriage that I have ever heard.  

Finally, if you are interested in being part of the SLACE podcast next year.  Aside from interviews and recorded events, the podcast will also include debates in this format.  Students will encompass the panelists, who will question “experts” (probably mostly professors) advocating various positions.  Ideally, there would be one of these debates per semester.  Members of Moot Court would make ideal panelists.  

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March 29, 2013 · 11:42 am

United States v. Windsor: Oral Argument Audio

Today, the Supreme Court heard arguments in United States v. Windsor which will determine the constitutionality of DOMA.  Here is a link to Oyez, which provides the full  audio of the oral arguments synced with a searchable transcript.  For wall-to-wall coverage and commentary on the case, check out the SCOUTSblog.

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March 27, 2013 · 7:05 pm