SLATE | Apr. 3, 2017 | For many years, I had mixed feelings about the rainbow flag, whose creator, Gilbert Baker, died on Friday. Growing up in the 1980s as a closeted bisexual, I chose, if only half-consciously, to align myself with other identities that allowed me to avoid any allegiance to a scorned minority group, of which I had mostly negative images. The rainbow seemed cheesy as an LGBTQ symbol, conveying in my mind a forced, overly sentimental vision of diversity then being celebrated in my progressive high school.
In the wake of last week’s election upset, demoralized progressives set about debating what explains Trump’s victory—and even whether we should try to understand the forces responsible for it. It was the revolt of the white working class, say some, against demographic and cultural changes that have left its members feeling acute status loss. Commentator Van Jones dubbed it “whitelash.” It was “economic anxieties,” a phrase which some use earnestly while others only deploy to connote veiled racism masquerading as economic struggle. It was a level of misogyny so pervasive and often unconscious that even millions of women voted to send an amoral, womanizing buffoon to the White House instead of a brilliant, highly capable, battle-tested woman. It was Hillary Clinton’s flawed candidacy and campaign. No doubt each of these played a role.
SLATE | Nov. 4, 2016 | Four years ago, I wrote you an open letter, arguing that, while I could appreciate your long loyalty to the Republican Party, voting for Mitt Romney meant voting against the interests of your gay son, my best friend since college. This year, the stakes for our nation and the world are even higher than they were then, and Donald Trump’s record on LGBTQ equality can seem insignificant considering his record—and character—when it comes to so many other critical issues.
SLATE | Apr. 27, 2016 | In the wake of draconian laws passed in North Carolina and Mississippi restricting which restrooms transgender people can use, much of the attention has focused on the economic and political backlash to anti-LGBTQ discrimination. Sometimes, public pressure is the best or only tactic that works, and it’s heartening to see economic and political costs imposed on supporters of these odious laws. But it’s easy to forget just how important private conversations can be to securing lasting social change, especially in a campaign where winning hearts and minds is a key goal.
LOS ANGELES TIMES | Dec. 4, 2015 | Now that the Supreme Court has found a constitutional right to marry for same-sex couples, it seems logical that the parallel national debate over same-sex parenting might also be over. After all, the two issues were proxies for each other. Social conservatives had argued that marriage equality would increase the number of motherless or fatherless households, a climate they argued was bad for kids. Once gay and lesbian couples could marry — strengthening their parental ties — their opponents would seem to have less room to challenge their right to be parents.
SLATE | Feb. 12, 2015 | Last week a new study was published, concluding that Dutch adolescents with lesbian moms “showed no significant differences” from their peers with opposite-sex parents. This week, another new study was published, concluding the opposite: “Emotional problems were over twice as prevalent … for children with same-sex parents than for children with opposite-sex parents.”
SLATE | Jul. 10, 2014 | You might think that a researcher who was repudiated by his own department, caught lying about the role of funding in his research, and generally made the laughing stock of serious scholars in his field would lay low for a while. If this researcher had any desire to rehabilitate his career, you might assume, he would avoid repeating the same line of ungrounded, politicized, and harmful claims about LGBTQ families that badly marred his career in the first place.
SLATE | Jun. 18, 2014 | Ted Olson is not a historian. He is a conservative superlawyer and former solicitor general who became a household name first for arguing the Bush v. Gore case that put George W. in the White House, and later for teaming up with his adversary in that case, David Boies, to overturn Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage statewide.
SLATE | May 12, 2014 | Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Sunday that the ban on transgender service members should be “reviewed” and that “every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity” to do so. Although military spokespeople havesaid before that the policy is regularly under review, the remarks by the Pentagon chief, in which he said he was “open” to reassessing the policy and reiterated that service members should be judged by their performance abilities, appear to signal a new level of commitment to reconsidering the trans ban.
SLATE | Apr. 22, 2014 | One fall day in 1990, Ninia Baehr found herself with an ear infection and no health insurance. When the pain became unbearable, she and her partner, Genora Dancel, called Bill Woods, a lawyer at a Honolulu gay and lesbian community center, to see if there were any options for domestic-partner insurance benefits. Woods said no, but as it happened he’d been looking for couples to challenge the Hawaii law barring gay couples from getting married. He asked Baehr and Dancel if they’d join. Dancel, who wasn’t out to her family, was hesitant, and thought hard about it. “I said to myself, ‘This is what my life has led up to,’ ” she recalled. “I’m tired of being treated differently, and I have as much right as anyone else to get married.” The next morning, Baehr and Dancel, along with two other couples, applied for a marriage license from the Hawaii Health Department. They were denied. So they decided to sue. A revolution had begun.