Beacon Press: Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage
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Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage

Valuing All Families under the Law

Author: Nancy Polikoff   Series editor: Michael Bronski

Part of the Queer Ideas series

QUEER IDEAS a new series of LGBT hardcovers that address important intellectual questions facing the movement.

A persuasive argument for why married couples, gay or straight, should not receive special rights denied to other families

The debate over marriage equality for same-sex couples rages across the country. Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage boldly moves the discussion forward by focusing on the larger, more fundamental issue of marriage and the law. The root problem, asserts law professor and LGBT rights activist Nancy Polikoff, is that marriage is a bright dividing line between those relationships that legally matter and those that don’t. A woman married to a man for nine months is entitled to Social Security survivor’s benefits when he dies; a woman living for nineteen years with a man or woman to whom she is not married receives nothing.

Polikoff reframes the debate by arguing that all family relationships and households need the economic stability and emotional peace of mind that now extend only to married couples. Unmarried couples of any sexual orientation, single-parent households, extended family units, and myriad other familial configurations need recognition and protection to meet the concerns they all share: building and sustaining economic and emotional interdependence, and nurturing the next generation.

Couples should have the choice to marry based on the spiritual, cultural, or religious meaning of marriage in their lives, asserts Polikoff. While marriage equality for same-sex couples is a civil rights victory, she contends that no one should have to marry in order to reap specific and unique legal results.

A persuasive argument that married couples should not receive special rights denied to other families, Polikoff shows how the law can value all families, and why it must.
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“A much-needed intervention in the contemporary debate about marriage and family. Polikoff’s argument is provocative, illuminating, and original.” —John D’Emilio, author of Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin

“Polikoff mobilizes an impressive array of legal history and contemporary court cases to show how marriage, whether same-sex or heterosexual, has ceased to be the only place where people incur long-term obligations. She argues vigorously that our society needs to find new ways of determining when legally-enforceable responsibilities and entitlements have accrued in interpersonal relationships.” —Stephanie Coontz, author, Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage

“This book really matters. It is brilliant and thoughtful, not simply about a set of laws, but as a manifesto to transform the way we understand, recognize and respect the reality of our diverse and complex family compositions. Polikoff grounds her arguments in the 35 year history of social change activism in this country to construct a passionate and nuanced argument for expanding our same sex marriage activism to include all of the ways people love, form families and build community.” —Amber Hollibaugh, Senior Strategist, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and author of My Dangerous Desires: A Queer Girl Dreaming her Way Home

“Passionate but completely grounded in reality, Polikoff challenges LGBT rights advocates to see beyond gay equality arguments and question the fundamental fairness of limiting family recognition based on marriage, gay or straight. It is a powerful call for social justice.” —Nan D. Hunter, founder of the American Civil Liberties Union Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project and Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School

“A provocative and perspicuous intervention in one of the most devilish recent debates in U.S. law and politics…In a principled yet pragmatic analysis, Polikoff mounts a compelling case against the continued grip of ‘conjugalism’ on our family law and policy. Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage challenges us to imagine and build a political consensus that respects the realities of contemporary American kinship and family life, in all its complexity.” —Kendall Thomas, Nash Professor of Law, Columbia University

“Why is an ultra-right legal group supporting the custody suit of a lesbian mom? Nancy Polikoff, author of Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing All Families under the Law asks the questions in a fascinating post today at Beacon Broadside.” —Mombian Read Full Post


Review by: Alex Blaze, The Bilerico Project - May 5, 2008
"The book's a valuable reference just for the vast research Polikoff undertook to write it, and an important resource for those working to help LGBT people." Read Full Review

Review by: Rachel Pepper, Curve - May 1, 2008
“Using real case studies, Polikoff makes a strong case that furthering the legal protections for all people, regardless of relationship status, will help the LGBT community more than marriage itself. A harder path to imagine, perhaps, but a realistic message that activists would do well to heed.”
Review: Windy City Times - April 23, 2008
Over the last few years, there has been wider resistance to gay marriage in the queer community...can now resort to Nancy Polikoff's detailed book for supporting counterarguments against the gay marriage crowd, as well as ways in which to craft a system that guarantees basics like health care to everybody, not just the coupled and married." Read Full Review
Review: Booklist - December 15, 2007
“Ultimately, marriage isn’t the right dividing line, Polikoff maintains in this provocative argument for valuing all kinds of family.”
— Whitney Scott

Review: Publishers Weekly - October 29, 2007
“Polikoff wades through legislation and legalese with style and substance, plus a touch of flair. Impeccably researched, the book offers an evocative read that takes in the full breadth of the issues affecting marriages and avoids pedantry while remaining persuasive.”

  • Read op-eds by Nancy Polikoff in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Washington Post

  • Read an interview with Nancy Polikoff in the Washington Blade (February 22, 2008)

  • Read an interview with Nancy Polikoff in the Washington Post

  • Listen to Nancy Polikoff on WAMU

  • Read an excerpt in the July/August issue of Utne Reader
  • Read an interview with Nancy Polikoff on Bookslut

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Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage

ISBN: 978-080704432-2
Publication Date: 2/1/2008
Pages: 256
Size:5.5 x Inches (US)
Price:  $24.95
Format: Cloth
Availability: In stock.
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