Today’s book salon with Lee Badgett discussing her book, ‘When Gay People Get Married’, is incredibly timely. On the heels of Judge Walker’s order finding Prop 8 unconstitutional, America has begun anew a conversation about whether same sex couples ought to be afforded the same right to marry as opposite sex couples.
Few people are as studied and knowledgeable as Lee Badgett on this subject. Aside from her professional roles as an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and as Research Director for UCLA’s Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, she and her wife were married in Massachusetts soon after it became the first state in the U.S. to afford marriage rights to same sex couples.
The work of Lee and her colleagues at the Williams Institute has played a largely unnoticed, yet hugely influential role in both shaping the conversation on marriage and in shaping legal opinions. While their research is regularly cited in the mainstream media, it is most powerful when their research is cited in judicial rulings granting marriage equality. This happened in nearly every such case decided favorably in the United States.
All of this combines to make Lee Badgett one heck of a bad ass when it comes to one of the greatest social issues facing America at this unique moment in history. For the multitudes of us who took delight in Judge Walker’s decision last week, we can thank her not only for her years of research that helped to shape Judge Walker’s ruling, but also for her stellar testimony in the trial outlining the economic harm to same sex couples when denied the right to marry.
Lee having played a key role in marriage victories to date is indisputable. But the path toward winning marriage was not always easy and the opposition did not always come from opponents on the political Right. And now that these victories have provided a new landscape in which growing numbers of LGBT people live and love, many people struggle with accepting the change in traditional gay culture in which marriage was not an option.
As with any social movement, the effort to win marriage equality is complicated. From battling social conservatives to winning consensus among peers that marriage is something we deserve; from individual considerations on getting married to broad cultural shifts on the perception of marriage; and from detailed research and legal theory to personal stories, Lee Badgett brings it all together in ‘When Gay People Get Married’.
We are in the midst of a social revolution. Few understand all of the moving parts and their ramifications on individuals and society like Lee Badgett does. We are incredibly lucky to have her at FDL today. Dig in and ask away before the social revolution leaves you behind!