Marriage ^and Equality

Can marriage be *re-imagined*? As much of the LGBTQ community fights for the legal right to be married, some argue this doesn’t go far enough. A new legal definition of marriage benefits some who were formerly excluded but leaves other family and partnership units behind.

In this free, public forum, marriage and equality are treated as separate but related constructs. Our diverse panel will explore the functions and identities of marriage, from an expression of attachment and affection to a powerful social institution.

The goal of this discussion will be to foster a dialogue that continues to encourage marriage equality while simultaneously applying a critical lens (rooted in feminist and queer theory) to marriage as an institution.


Friday, December 7, 2012.
The New School, Theresa Lang Community and Student Center

55 W. 13th Street New York, New York 10011 — 2nd Floor
Doors open at 6:00 pm. Ticketholders must be present by 6:30. Waitlist seating begins at 6:30.



Melissa Harris-Perry, Ph.D., Tulane University political science professor and MSNBC opinion show host. Harris-Perry is also founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South. She previously served on the faculties of the University of Chicago and Princeton University.

Kenyon Farrow, activist, writer, and Communications Director for The Praxis Project and the former Executive Director of Queers for Economic Justice. Farrow has been working as an organizer, communications strategist, and writer on issues at the intersection of HIV/AIDS, prisons, and homophobia.

Liz Margolies, LCSW, activist, National LGBT Cancer Network founder, and newly-engaged psychotherapist. The National LGBT Cancer Network is the first national program addressing the needs of all LGBT people with cancer and those at risk. In addition to her cancer work, Margolies is a psychotherapist in private practice in New York City, specializing in trauma, loss, health disparities, and sexuality.

Deva Woodly, Ph.D., political science professor at The New School for Social Research. Woodly is interested in interested in the ways that political discourse affects the political choices of ordinary citizens, candidates, and mass media as well as the American political landscape as a whole. Her work has been particularly focused on ways to conceive of and measure the impact of rhetoric as a legitimate tool in the clockwork of mass democracy, with special interest in persuasive speech as a site of action that has the potential to generate influence and power not only from the top down, but also from the bottom-up.

Lisa Rubin, Ph.D., clinical psychology professor at The New School for Social Research. Rubin’s research examines cultural influences on women’s health, with a focus on body image, reproductive health, psycho-oncology, and health disparities. Her research has been published in Psychology of Women Quarterly; Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry; Psycho-Oncology; and Women and Therapy.


2 Responses to Marriage ^and Equality

  1. Billy Somerville January 8, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    I didn’t notice before that my brother Scott commented on this post. I should say that our political views are VERY different. There is something to be said for making marriage a non-legal institution… maybe something along the lines of a baptism? In the meantime it is a powerful vehicle for conferring various legal rights in this country. That being the case, and with an eye toward marriage’s oppressive and patriarchal history, the opportunity to “re-imagine” marriage on December 7 was welcome and refreshing.

    FYI, a full video recording of the panel is now available at this link:

    Happy 2013, everybody!

  2. Scott Somerville November 23, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    I was a member of the very first Gay Rights class at Harvard Law School back in 1991–the only straight person in the room. My sixth child had just been born three weeks earlier, and we had some fascinating discussions about the law and politics of marriage. I was surprised (although I shouldn’t have been) to discover how DIFFERENTLY my gay classmates and my lesbian classmates felt about this issue. It took some time for me, a monogamous heterosexual, to see how much our Western notion of “marriage” constrains the range of permissible relationships.

    The Christian institution of “marriage” as primarily theological, not sociological. Although humans can arrange their social relationships and inheritance laws in countless ways, the New Testament prefers one male/female pattern over all others. I don’t see why a secular society should legislate theology–but, as I explained to my classmates in 1991, it matters a great deal who DOES define and police “marriage” in a society.

    In 21st century America, a religiously-motivated person can make a vow to love another person “as long as we both shall live,” only to have the courts apply a very different standard–“as long as we both shall love.” What Catholics deem the “sacrament of marriage” is managed by a secular system that is constitutionally prohibited from treating “sacraments” as special. In my opinion, American family law would be better off if we left the definition of “marriage” in the hands of churches (and temples and mosques) so that the secular government could stick to secular matters.

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