Media Mentions

Media mentions of the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law. Media clippings include references to the work of the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law, and articles where Center for Gender & Sexuality Law faculty and staff have provided expertise on issues related to gender and sexuality in law, policy, and advocacy work.

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Media Mentions: The Center for Gender and Sexuality Law

The following is a list of recent media mentions and clips highlighting the work of the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law, and the expertise of the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law's faculty and staff.

If you are a journalist or reporter seeking comments or insight for an issue of gender, sexuality, reproductive justice, or gender identity and expression with regard to law, policy, or advocacy, we welcome you to contact the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law. Please contact Lilia Hadjiivanova, the Center's Assistant Director by phone at +1 (212) 854-0167, or by e-mail at LHadjiivanova@law.columbia.edu, and state the nature of your inquiry, the publication you are writing for, and your reporting timeline.  

Media Mentions: The Law, Rights, and Religion Project

Media Mentions for the Law, Rights, and Religion Project can be found on the Law, Rights, and Religion Project website, here: Media Mentions

Media Mentions: 2018 - 2019

For a list of Previous Media Mentions, contact the Center's Assistant Director, Lilia Hadjiivanova, at (212) 854-0167 or Gender_Sexuality_Law@law.columbia.edu


How the LGBTQ rights cases before the Supreme Court affect all Americans

Anna North, Vox.com
October 8, 2019

Though women might experience a disproportionate impact, it’s hard to imagine a group in society who wouldn’t be affected by such a change. Cisgender, straight men could be vulnerable to discrimination if they have primary responsibility for their children, said Suzanne B. Goldberg, director of Columbia Law School’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law and the co-author of an amicus brief on behalf of the employees in the three cases before the court on Tuesday.

What’s left of sex discrimination law if employers can fire people for being insufficiently masculine or feminine? “I think that’s the right question,” Goldberg said. “If the court were to reject the LGBT employees’ claims here, there might not be much left to sex discrimination law under Title VII.”


Abortion and #MeToo

Professor Suzanne Goldberg, Take Care Blog
May 15, 2019

Professor Suzanne Goldberg writes at the TakeCare Blog on Reproductive Rights and Reproductive Justice and the movements to protect reproductive rights in the time of the Trump Administration, and the #MeToo movement.


LGBT at SCOTUS: Early Reactions

ALM Media, Yahoo Finance
April 25, 2019

"'Not great news from the Supreme Court this morning—unlikely that the new conservative majority will find that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are forms of sex discrimination under Title VII. Our work, like in almost all other areas now, will be harm reduction,' Katherine Franke, professor of law, gender and sexuality studies at Columbia Law School, said"


SCOTUS, Sans Kennedy, Returns to LGBT Cases

Staff, Law.com
April 25, 2019

“'Not great news from the Supreme Court this morning—unlikely that the new conservative majority will find that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are forms of sex discrimination under Title VII. Our work, like in almost all other areas now, will be harm reduction,' Katherine Franke, professor of law, gender and sexuality studies at Columbia Law School, said..."


The Dread of Waiting for the Supreme Court to Rule on L.G.B.T. Rights

Masha Gessen, The New Yorker
April 23, 2019

"'Not great news from the Supreme Court this morning,' Katherine Franke, a law professor and the director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University, wrote.... [it is] 'unlikely' that the court’s conservative majority would find that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, under its provisions prohibiting sex discrimination in the workplace, protects L.G.B.T. employees. 'Our work, like in almost all other areas now, will be harm reduction'"


Judging Job Bias by Comparing Workers: Circuit Court Rules Vary

Staff, Bloomberg Law
April 11, 2019

“'There are very few jobs for which a ‘perfect’ comparator exists,' said Suzanne Goldberg, a law professor at Columbia University. 'As the economy continues to diversify, a rigid approach to comparators will cut the heart out of anti-discrimination law.'"


'Sea change' as openly gay candidates make giant leaps in US Politics

AP Reporter, The Independent
April 4, 2019

"'For many members of the LGBTQ community, a candidate's mere identity as gay or lesbian is not enough,' said Professor Katherine Franke, who teaches gender and sexuality studies at Columbia University. 

'Neither Lightfoot nor Buttigieg are particularly progressive in their policy positions on a number of issues,' Ms. Franke said."


LGBT Progress seen in Lightfoot's win, rise of 'Mayor Pete'

David Crary, AP
April 3, 2019

"'For many members of the LGBTQ community, a candidate’s mere identity as gay or lesbian is not enough,' said professor Katherine Franke, who teaches gender and sexuality studies at Columbia University.

'Neither Lightfoot nor Buttigieg are particularly progressive in their policy positions on a number of issues,' Franke said. 'Lightfoot has been criticized for being too pro-prosecution and pro-police in a city that has suffered significant police violence, and Buttigieg has been critiqued for his identification with elites.'"


'Randomness' at the Border: A Columbia Law Professor Visits Migrants in Tijuana

WNYC News
April 3, 2019

WNYC Spoke with Professor Katherine Franke about her experiences in working with Columbia Law School Students and Al Otro Lado at the U.S. Mexico Border as part of a pro-bono work trip during the School's spring break. 

"Franke and her law students were briefing migrants about what to expect when they finally enter a processing center run by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Immigrants call these centers hieleras, Spanish for iceboxes, because they're so cold. Those seeking asylum are given credible fear interviews. If they pass, they're given an immigration court date. But Franke said there's no single path out of the processing center.

'If there’s anything that characterizes what the US government is doing it's randomness,' she stated. 'Some people are brought into the hielera and then discharged that day with either an ankle bracelet or just dumped in a park in San Diego. Other people are kept for weeks. Other people are sent to detention centers in other states.'"


Making Reparations Work in America

Tanzina Vega, The Takeaway, WNYC
April 3, 2019

Professor Katherine Franke spoke with Maxine Crump, Nkechi Taifa, Danica Coto, Andrea Gonzalez-Ramirez and Lawrence Hurley in this edition of The Takeaway, hosted by Tanzina Vega, on the issue of Reparations in the United States


Here's What the Supreme Court's New Abortion Ruling Signals about the Future of Roe v. Wade

Carter Sherman, VICE News
February 8, 2019

Professor Suzanne Goldberg spoke with VICE News about the potential implications of a Supreme Court vote on a case regarding abortion laws in Louisiana on Roe v. Wade


Keep Cross-Examination Out of College Sexual-Assault Cases

Suzanne Goldberg, Chronicle of Higher Education
January 10, 2019

"Since the Department of Education has stressed its respect for colleges’ expertise, it might consider commissioning a study to test the effectiveness and risks of campus cross-­examination. But to override current, experience-based procedures and impose a national cross-examination rule across all higher-education institutions in the United States would undermine, not enhance, the fair and impartial treatment that all students deserve."


The True Story of the Case Ruth Bader Ginsburg Argues in "On the Basis of Sex'

Lila Thulin, Smithsonian
December 24, 2018

"'It can be difficult in 2018 to imagine that so many laws distinguished between men and women or that so many laws restricted the rights of women, but that is where we were,' says Suzanne Goldberg, a professor at Columbia Law School. These laws ranged from the serious (widowers, assumed to be the family breadwinners, could not receive social security benefits from deceased wives, a provision of the Social Security Act Ginsburg would go on to challenge before the Supreme Court) to the downright absurd (in Wisconsin, female hairstylists couldn’t cut men’s hair). The Equal Pay Act, passed in 1963, was the first piece of federal legislation to prohibit sex-based discrimination."


Columbia affirms support for transgender community as Trump threatens to roll back protections

Valeria Escobar, Columbia Spectator
October 25, 2018

"The Office of University Life has released a statement in solidarity with Columbia’s transgender community, two days after the Trump administration’s announcement of a newly proposed interpretation of Title IX that would effectively erase the federal recognition of transgender Americans.

The statement, made by Executive Vice President for University Life Suzanne Goldberg and announced in an email to students from Associate Dean of Multicultural Affairs Melinda Aquino, reinforces the University’s commitment to protecting transgender and nonbinary students, faculty, and staff."


How the #MeToo Movement is Playing Out in Court

Danny Lewis, WNYC
October 23, 2018

Professor Suzanne Goldberg spoke with Danny Lewis at WNYC on the issue of how the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are influencing litigation, law, and policy regarding issues of sexual assault and harassment. 

"...as the director of Columbia Law School's Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, Suzanne Goldberg, tells WNYC's Jami Floyd, it's still too soon to tell the long-term impacts that #MeToo and #TimesUp may have on the justice system writ large.

'There is unquestionably change happening,' Goldberg said. 'But...we do need to look at criminal prosecutions, we do need to look at what's happening in civil litigation. We also need to look at what's happening in state law, what employers are putting in place, what schools are putting in place and what has changed in the conversation.'"


How the Trump Administration Could Make Trans People Invisible Under the Law

Tess Owen, VICE News
October 22, 2018

"Over the weekend, the New York Times reported the existence of an internal Department of Health and Human Services memo that pushed for a measure that would essentially gut federal civil rights protections for transgender individuals. The document encourages federal agencies to adopt a rigid, outdated definition of “gender,” dictated “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable,” according to the Times. The proposal also includes a provision to require individuals to undergo genetic testing to clear up lingering disputes or confusion about their gender.

If federal agencies implement the proposal, the government would no longer have to view the approximately 1.4 million transgender people in America as a protected class under civil rights law, experts told VICE News.

'The concern is that there are many areas of federal regulation that directly affect the lives of trans individuals,' said Suzanne Goldberg, who heads Columbia Law Schools’ Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, 'from obtaining documents like passports to accessing healthcare via the Affordable Care Act.'"


Stephen Elliott's Lawyer Doesn't Want to Bring Up Soviet Russia, But...

Gabriella Paiella, The Cut, New York Magazine
October 19, 2018

Katherine Franke is quoted in this piece at "The Cut" on the legal strategies that Andrew Miltenberg uses to undermine persons bringing cases of sexual harassment and assault


Caster receives prestigious award from Billie Jean King

AP Reporter, Sport 24
October 18, 2018

Professor Suzanne Goldberg spoke with AP about the ways in which calls to police testosterone levels of female athletes have been used to enable discrimination against sexual and gender minorities, and enable discrimination against persons on the basis of gender expression.


During Kavanaugh-Ford hearing, calls to sexual assault hotline spiked by 201 percent

Ethan Sacks, NBC News
September 28, 2018

"'I think many people woke up to the reinforcement of what has always been their intuition: That you won’t be believed, you will be mocked, and that your own personal health is better preserved by keeping it to yourself,' said [Katherine] Franke, who is the director of the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law.

Franke said that the Republican handling of the allegations shows how far Washington is lagging behind the corporate world in adapting to the changes brought about by the #MeToo movement in the past year — and a reminder of just how little has changed there since the Anita Hill testimony in 1991.

'This is not over with the vote,' said Franke. 'The spectacle that we saw in the Judiciary Committee will have long term consequences for many of us.'"


Dianne Feinstein Was Right to Grant Christine Blasey Ford Her Privacy

Lisa Ryan, The Cut, New York Magazine
September 20, 2018

"Still, there are ways Feinstein could have alerted others to the accusations against Kavanaugh without compromising Ford’s anonymity. And, furthermore, as an elected official, she would have had an ethical duty to report such extreme allegations against a Supreme Court nominee, according to Katherine Franke, the director of the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School. The information could have helped determine whether Kavanaugh is fit to serve on the court, and it therefore should have been disclosed sooner, she added.

Franke stressed that this could have been done in a way that kept Ford’s identity confidential. 'Senator Feinstein could have disclosed the fact of the accusation without disclosing the name of the accuser,' she said. 'It would have been proper at that point for the committee to have adopted measures that would have protected the accusing party — including confidential interviews with committee staff.'

But Franke isn’t only placing the burden on Feinstein in this instance; she says what has happened to Ford since her story went public was 'foreseeable,' and the committee should have anticipated the threats and harassment — and even prepared for it. They could have, for instance, put into place mechanisms that would have protected Ford’s identity, rather than basically giving her the choice of 'nondisclosure on the one hand, or full disclosure without precautions on the other.' As a result, Franke said that the 'interests of neither party have been adequately attended to, and the Judiciary Committee’s leadership has allowed a damaging free-for-all to unfold.'"


Imperial Pink? The Wing Gears Up to Go Global

Chloe Malle, Vogue Magazine
August 8, 2018

Katherine Franke spoke with Chloe Malle at Vogue on how the admission policies of "The Wing" - a purportedly feminist co-working space - set a potentially harmful precedent enabling discrimination. 

“'I think in 2018 for a company to have a business model that is discriminatory, even if seems in a benign sort of way, feels very untimely,' says Katherine Franke, Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Columbia University and author of a petition advocating for the commission’s enforcement of the Sex Discrimination Law (it was signed by a dozen lawyers and gender-studies and law professors)."


Suzanne Goldberg, Executive Vice President of Columbia University's Office of University Life, Spoke on Diversity, Inclusion and Sexual Respect in Chile

Columbia Global Centers
August 1, 2018

"During the last few months Chile has experienced a wave of strikes, occupations and protests against sexual harassment and gender discrimination within the country’s universities. In July, Suzanne Goldberg, Executive Vice President of the Office of University Life at Columbia, travelled to Chile to share the university’s experience on these matters, its commitment to fostering an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment, including sexual assault and all other forms of gender-based misconduct, and its policies and protocols on diversity and inclusion."


Latin America: Glimmers of progress amidst fears of backsliding on reproductive rights

Ruth Green, International Bar Association
July 6, 2018

"Professor Suzanne Goldberg from the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School says Justice Kennedy’s retirement may sound the death knell for reproductive rights in the US. ‘Justice Kennedy stood as a bulwark against the efforts by some states to dramatically cut back on abortion rights,’ she says.

In the US, the president nominates Supreme Court justices before the Senate confirms their appointment. Goldberg says all the indications so far suggest President Donald Trump’s nominee is likely to challenge Kennedy’s views on abortion. ‘There is significant concern that the President will appoint someone who is committed to undoing what Justice Kennedy has done in the areas of gender and sexuality law and in the areas of LGBT rights and women’s rights.’"


 
Revolutionary Arrangement Will Allow Federal Law Clerk to Take Parental Leave During Clerkship

Staci Zaretsky, Above the Law
July 2, 2018

"Professor Suzanne Goldberg, the director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law and the Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic at Columbia Law School, offered further perspective on the uniqueness of the plan that was arranged for Tuchman by Roberta Kaplan and her partners at Kaplan & Co. 'For too many years, there has been an implicit rule that any woman considering clerking should avoid getting pregnant before starting the job. Yet as we all know, life does not always match up perfectly to our work calendars,' she noted. 'Finding ways to create short-term clerkship coverage with law firm associates and others who are in the early stages of their careers can create valuable benefits both for judges and for lawyers interested in clerking but unable to dedicate a full year to the experience.'"


Here's What Could Happen to Roe v. Wade and Abortion Rights After Justice Kennedy's Retirement

Katie Reilly, TIME Magazine
June 27, 2018

“'If women can’t control their reproductive bodies — and it’s a crime to do so — we’ll also see a drop in women in the wage labor market, in politics, as heads of corporations,' said Katherine Franke, director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University. 'What will unravel once we overrule Roe, I think, will reverberate across the entire society.'"


Anthony Kennedy and the four Supreme Court rulings that changed gay life in America

Jessica Contrera, The Seattle Times
June 27, 2018

Professor Suzanne Goldberg spoke with the Seattle Times about the ways in which LGBTQ persons were criminalized in the United States until the early 21st Century, and how Supreme Court Decisions contributed to the decriminalization of homosexuality.


Travel Ban Upheld: What Happens Now?

Tanzina Vega, The Takeaway, WNYC
June 26, 2018

Tanzina Vega of WNYC's The Takeaway spoke with Sahar Aziz, a Visiting Faculty Member with Columbia Law School's Center for Gender & Sexuality Law, on the implications of the Supreme Court's ruling upholding President Donald J. Trump's Travel Ban in the decision in Trump v. Hawaii, announced on Tuesday, June 26th.


Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the Slippery Slope of Discrimination

Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News
June 26, 2018

Professor Suzanne Goldberg of Columbia Law School is quoted in this piece at the New York Daily News, on the teaching moment that the ejection of Sarah Huckabee Sanders from a restaurant may provide to people who otherwise endorse discrimination: 

"'It’s a highly unusual situation,' she told The News. 'The best outcome of the Sanders’ incident is that it shines light on how people are discriminated against based on race and sexual orientation every day.'"


Columbia Prof Warns of 'Theocratization' of Constitution by Conservatives

Mike LaChance, Legal Insurrection (Blog)
June 13, 2018

Mike LaChance of the Legal Insurrection Blog mentions the "College Reform" article that critically cited Professor Franke's "Q & A"  contextualizing the Supreme Court's decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission 


Professor Warns Conservatives "Theocratizing" Constitution

Art Moore, World Net Daily
June 12, 2018

"In the view of conservatives, [Columbia Law Professor, Katherine] Franke said, the 'rights of LGBTQ people, women, people of color, and others' should 'yield when in conflict with religious liberty.'

She said 'this approach to constitutional law derives from something we call ‘natural law’— that no man-made law can be superior to God’s law.'

This interpretation, said Franke, 'amounts to a radical theocratization of the Constitution, a document that was intended to be an adamantly secular social contract.'

She said 'ideological conservatives' are 'using religion-based resistance to same-sex marriage in order to weaken the larger national commitment to enforcing non-discrimination laws in business settings.'"


What Does Harvey Weinstein's Arrest mean for the #MeToo Movement?

Nidia Bautista, Al Jazeera
June 9, 2018

"Suzanne Goldberg, a professor at Columbia Law School and a leading expert on gender and sexuality law, said Weinstein's arrest marks a shift in the pursuit of justice for survivors of sexual violence.

'This case has enormous importance for all of the individuals who were harmed by Weinstein but also has symbolic importance because it marks a shift from a world in which a notorious and egregious perpetrator was seemingly invincible to a world in which he has been arrested and is awaiting further criminal proceedings,' Goldberg told Al Jazeera.

'That's a major shift and I think something many people felt would never happen. It may reinforce interest in more seriously pursuing others who have engaged in similar misconduct,' Goldberg told Al Jazeera."


Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty to rape, sex assault charges

AFP, The Express Tribune
June 6, 2018

Professor Suzanne Goldberg is quoted in this piece at The Express Tribune, highlighting the difference between the success of a movement to open dialogue regarding sexual assault, and the prosecution of sexual assault and harassment in the courts:

"'It is hard to predict the outcome....Regardless of what’s happening in the #MeToo movement, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Weinstein engaged in these unlawful acts with these particular women.'"


The promising gay-rights message in the Masterpiece Cakeshop Ruling

Professor Suzanne Goldberg, NY Daily News
June 5, 2018

Professor Suzanne Goldberg's Op-Ed following on the Supreme Court's ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission highlights the ways in which the Justices' opinions affirm the rights of LGBTQ persons:

"It is clear is that the 'baker victory' headlines reflect a limited — and potentially misleading — understanding of what the Court has told us. The larger portion of the Court’s decision affirms the Constitution’s respect not only for religious faith but also for the laws that protect equal access to the public marketplace. It is these laws, after all, that seek to ensure our dignity as individuals and as a nation committed to justice for all."


5 Questions with Professor Franke on the Masterpiece Cakeshop Case

Columbia University News
June 4, 2018

"Many people were disappointed to see the Court rule in favor of Jack Phillips, the Christian baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for two men because of his religious beliefs, and see the opinion as a defeat for the rights of LGBTQ people. It’s important to recognize, however, that the opinion does not actually limit anti-discrimination law. The Court explained, 'It is a general rule that [faith-based] objections do not allow business owners and other actors in the economy and in society to deny protected persons equal access to goods and services under a neutral and generally applicable public accommodations law.'

The opinion contains soaring language recognizing the importance of gay rights: 'Our society has come to the recognition that gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth. For that reason, the laws and the Constitution can—and in some instances must—protect them in the exercise of their civil rights. The exercise of their freedom on terms equal to others must be given great weight and respect by the courts.'"


Harvey Weinstein's Prosecution and When #MeToo Makes it to Court

WNYC Newsroom, WNYC News
May 29, 2018

"Suzanne Goldberg, the director of Columbia Law School's Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, spoke with Jami Floyd, the host of WNYC's All Things Considered, about what the high-profile prosecution means for the #MeToo movement. 

'Relatively few rape cases wind up being prosecuted as a general matter and there's no reason to think that will be different there,' Goldberg said.

While sexual assault and abuse cases remain tough for prosecutors to prove, she said, #MeToo has helped criminal prosecutions on another level.

'Some of tradition of disbelief toward woman, the undermining of women who bring these accusations ... some of that skepticism ... is going away,' she said."


Dios Gobierna el aborto en Iowa

Pablo De Llano, El País, España
May 21, 2018

Professor Katherine Franke spoke with Pablo De Llano about Iowa's restrictive "Fetal Heartbeat" legislation, and the strategies that advocacy leaders the ACLU and Planned Parenthood are employing in pursuing action to counter this legislation.


Abortion Suit Strategy Targets Iowa Only

Barbara Rodriguez and David Pitt, AP, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
May 17, 2018

Professor Katherine Franke spoke with reporters David Pitt and Barbara Rodriguez regarding the ACLU and Planned Parenthood's legal strategy in challenging Iowa's "fetal heartbeat" legislation which would severely restrict pregnant persons' access to abortion services.


Iowa Abortion suit won't have an easy path to US Supreme Court

Barbara Rodriguez and David Pitt, AP Reporters, NYTimes
May 16, 2018

"The distinction is important, said Columbia Law School professor Katherine Franke. It complicates the legal avenue for challenging Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that established a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy until a fetus is viable.

'The Iowa Supreme Court is the court of last resort on how to interpret the Iowa Constitution,' she said. 'They're raising it exclusively as a state constitutional issue for obvious reasons. They don't want to be baited into having this case be the opportunity for the U.S. Supreme Court to revise Roe. It's a smart strategy.'"


Remembering David Buckel, The Pioneering Lawyer Who Championed LGBT Rights

Masha Gessen, The New Yorker
April 16, 2018

Professor Suzanne Goldberg is quoted as she recalls a fond memory of David Buckel, an LGBT Rights lawyer she worked with extensively earlier in her career:

"Another former Lambda Legal colleague, the Columbia Law School professor Suzanne Goldberg, recalled that Buckel was, in addition to being dedicated and passionate, 'also wry and funny.'"


Gender-Studies and Law Professors Support NYC Investigation Into The Wing

Madeleine Aggeler, The Cut, New York Magazine
April 3, 2018

"[Professor Katherine Franke led a group of] 11 NYC professors of law, philosophy, and gender studies [who] voiced their support for the Commission’s investigation by signing a petition. They argue that failing to hold The Wing to the same anti-discrimination standard as other businesses could potentially set a dangerous precedent.

'Sure, some might like all women spaces, but this can’t be its business model, just as we would condemn all-male businesses, all-white businesses, all-Christian businesses, etc.,' the petition reads. 'Opening the door here to the non-application of the law will surely be used by other groups/interests who disagree with the application of a generally applicable rule in another context.'"


What's Wrong With a Woman-Only Club?

RJ Eskow, The Zero Hour
April 7, 2018

Professor Katherine Franke, Sulzbacher Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Law spoke with The Zero Hour with RJ Eskow on the NYC Commission On Human Rights' investigation of "Woman-Only" Co-working space, The Wing.  Professor Franke led a group of Gender Justice Scholars and Advocates in developing and circulating a memo in support of the NYCCHR in late March 2018.


Property or Spouse? Professor Katherine Franke's review of 'Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century' by Tera W. Hunter

Katherine Franke, Wellesley Review of Books
February 1, 2018

"The institution of marriage is asked to do an awful lot of work in most societies. It is used by couples to signal serious commitment, care, and love. It provides the social, economic, and legal structure for adult sexuality and the family, legitimizing those who enter its territory. Marriage also establishes the dominant rules of dependency and responsibility among adults and their children. And marriage serves as a useful means by which society makes distributional choices, such as allocating health insurance, tax preferences, property ownership, and other transfers of wealth. In its 1888 Maynard v. Hill decision, the US Supreme Court reflected the vital role that marriage plays in society when it ruled that marriage is 'the foundation of the family and society, without which there would be neither civilization nor progress.'

But even more fundamentally, the capacity to marry has served historically as a social and legal endorsement of a person’s full humanity. Time and again the Supreme Court has found that laws limiting the right to marry interfere with fundamental notions of personhood, whether it denied the right to marry to incarcerated people, lesbian and gay people, disabled people, or interracial couples.

Historian Tera Hunter’s new book, Bound in Wedlock, shows how the dehumanization of enslaved people in the United States was normalized through the institution of marriage. Bound in Wedlock is a detailed, careful, and comprehensive mapping of the role of marriage in the enslavement and emancipation of black people in the US in the nineteenth century."


Book Review of Professor Katherine Franke's Wedlocked

Terri Schlichenmeyer, EchoMag.com
January 19, 2018

"Throughout American history, [Katherine] Franke says, the 'rules' of marriage for non-white or same-sex individuals hid a double-edged sword of enhanced rights and enforced matrimonial laws complicated by pre-Emancipation fluidity of relationships and looser definitions of 'marriage' within African American communities then; and by somewhat of a lack of awareness in the LGBTQ community, complicated by different state laws now.

The bottom line that’s often not emphasized: when a couple marries, the state suddenly 'acquires a legal interest in your relationship.' Now, as then, marriage may also be legally 'forced' on a couple: in the case of former slaves, to gain benefits in wartime; for LGBTQ couples, in the continuation of health benefits. Even after all that, marriage, as Franke reminds readers, has never offered a guarantee from discrimination."