SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed
Steven Mintz, professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of Domestic Revolutions: A Social History of American Family Life and Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood, signed the American Historical Association brief.At a time when many question the relevance of history, it is noteworthy that the U.S. Supreme Court case that prohibited the federal government from undercutting a state’s decision to extend "the recognition, dignity and protection" of marriage to same-sex couples, hinged on arguments advanced by professional historians.Rarely have historians played as important a role in shaping the outcome of a public controversy as in the same-sex marriage cases. Legal, family, women's, and lesbian and gay historians provided key evidence on which U.S. v. Windsor ultimately turned: that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) represented an unprecedented and improper federal intrusion into a domain historically belonging to the states. As Justice Kennedy affirmed, "the federal government, through our history, has deferred to state law policy decisions with respect to domestic relations."
by Steven Maynard
The perspective on the history and politics of same-sex marriage crystallized in the AHA amicus brief both reflects and helps to reproduce a much broader and worrying process: the narrowing of the queer political field to variants of liberalism such that a left critique becomes increasingly difficult to voice.
Don Romesburg, associate professor in the Sonoma State University women's and gender studies department, released this statement on behalf of the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History, which he co-chairs:
by David Austin Walsh
Image via Shutterstock.The Supreme Court's decision released Wednesday morning to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act in Windsor v. United States upheld upon arguments made by historians in an amicus brief filed by the American Historical Association.The majority opinion acknowledges that “[b]y history and tradition, the definition and regulation of marriage has been treated as being within the authority and realm of the separate States.”This mirrors language in the brief filed by twenty-three historians of marriage, sexuality, and constitutional law, which stated in its introduction that “[c]ontrol of marital status is reserved to the states in our federal system. Marriage has always been understood as a civil contract embodying a couple’s free consent to join in long-lasting intimate and economic union.”
SOURCE: Marriage Equality Amendment
Andrew Seth Meyer is associate professor of history at Brooklyn College.During oral arguments over the repeal of Proposition 8, Justice Antonin Scalia asked the following question of Ted Olson, one of the attorney's arguing for the repeal: "I’m curious, when—when did—when did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage? 1791? 1868, when the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted?" Mr. Olson's answer was rather labored and tentative. To paraphrase his reply, he asserted that this change had happened at some indeterminable point when society realized that sexual orientation is not a matter of choice. Not being a lawyer, I am not aware of the possible legal reasons behind Mr. Olson's evasiveness. Still, I can not help expressing dissatisfaction with this answer.
SOURCE: The Nation
Melissa Harris-Perry is professor of political science at Tulane University, where she is founding director of the Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South. She is author of Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America. She is also a contributor to MSNBC.In his essay “Message in the Stars,” the American Presbyterian writer and theologian Frederick Buechner conducts a thought experiment. What if God decided to prove—dramatically, irrefutably and publicly—that God does exist by writing across the night sky. Buechner imagines the heavenly author arranging the stars to read—GOD IS—and the subsequent hope, terror, regret, joy and utter astonishment that such a message would bring. He fantasizes that God would write the message in all the different languages of the world, so that on any given night one might go outside, look up and see, in French, Mandarin or Arabic: GOD IS.He invites us to envision the sense of relief that would come with the utter certainty that God exists. Then he imagines this:
It is remarkable how fast the issue of same-sex marriage has moved the American public. Of course, some long-time proponents will argue the opposite, that it has taken far too long for it to gain acceptance. And they say that there is no shortage of efforts around the country to block or overturn the practice.But there is no question that since Vice President Biden first announced his support for the issue last May — jumping the gun on President Obama, whose position on the issue was said to still be "evolving" — things have changed rapidly. Almost immediately, and far more significant, was Obama's declaration he felt the same. After that came dramatic shifting in public opinion, where for the first time ever, polls show that more people support gay marriage than oppose it. It became a cause to be celebrated at the Democratic National Convention last summer. Voters in three states, after an unbroken string of defeats, chose to legalize gay marriage in November. And it got considerable attention at Obama's inauguration in January, where he said, "Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well."...
SOURCE: Kenneth Pomeranz and James Grossman in AHA Today
Kenneth Pomeranz and James Grossman are the president and executive director of the American Historical Association, respectively.The American Historical Association has joined a group of individual distinguished historians in signing an amicus brief in US v. Windsor, a case before the Supreme Court contesting the validity of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). As is so often the case in legal contexts, the details can get lost in the swirl of broader issues and we want to clarify some important aspects of the AHA’s decision.The brief that the AHA has joined addresses strictly historical issues: in this case, how marriage has historically been regulated in the United States, and the purposes for which marriage has been thought to exist. In both matters, it replies, in part, to a brief by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives (“BLAG”).
How big a deal is this?
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