Center Media Mentions
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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 for the Law, Rights, and Religion Project can be found here: Media Mentions
Media Mentions 2021-2022
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
Supreme Court Reverses Roe v. Wade (Podcast)
June Grasso, Bloomberg Law
Question: Can you explain the reasoning that Justice Alito used to get to reversing Roe v. Wade?
Katherine Franke: “He takes the position that Roe was wrongly decided in 1973, that it was a weakly decided decision, poorly reasoned, and that there's nothing that stands in the way of the court now overruling it. And he does so by turning to 13th century and 14th century legal treatises, to show that abortion was something that was considered criminal in England that many years ago, and almost all of the citations that Justice Alito uses are from old white men who don't have a stake--or at least don't have the same stake in this issue that we do today. So it not only freezes the Constitution in a pre-1970s place, it actually freezes the Constitution in the 13th century, which I just think is appalling.”
Stefania Palma, Financial Times
“Within a 24 hour period the Supreme Court ruled on the one hand that abortion rights are a local issue to be decided by each state independently, while on the other, states are barred from making local decisions about how to regulate guns,” said Katherine Franke, a professor at Columbia Law School.
Katherine Franke: “The right to contraception and abortion in the 60s and 70s, before Roe, was often argued as an equality right. That was certainly where Justice Ginsburg came down to understand access to abortion as being instrumental to women's full political and economic equality; that we can't function equally in, say, the workplace if we can't control our reproductive bodies.
But there were others that also understood it as a liberty right - that you have the right to make your own autonomous decisions about not just your sexuality, but your family, your future. And others saw it as a sort of incident of enslavement. They went back to the 13th Amendment and said that what denying access to abortion basically amounts to is is sexual slavery, that one becomes enslaved by one's body and one's reproductive capacities if you can't control them. So there are a number of different ways in which to understand access to abortion as a constitutional right.”
Kaia Hubbard, U.S. News
“It’s all about bodily autonomy,” Candace Bond-Theriault, the director of racial justice policy and strategy at the Columbia University’s Center for Gender & Sexuality Law says of policies targeting both abortion and transgender rights, especially for young people. “We’re seeing that now transpire into the LGBTQ movement and really attacking trans kids in a very similar way.”
Paige McGlauflin, Fortune
Simply put, the legal landscape is going to become complicated now that Roe has been overturned.
“You’re not going to just have passing laws that vary state to state. You’re also going to have states that are in conflict with each other; you might have the federal government intervening. In the middle of all this, you have this unexplored piece about what employers can do,” says Katherine Franke, director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University.
“There will be plenty of people working for companies in [abortion restrictive] states, who agree with the laws criminalizing abortion, and could disclose that information to local law enforcement and other public officials outside of the corporate context,” Franke says. “This will be an interesting project for corporate counsel...to think about how to set up funds that both support the access to health care for the employees and protect their privacy.”
“Some people will just be satisfied with the idea that these laws they’re passing will deter access to abortions. While in other jurisdictions, the local police, sheriffs, and prosecutors will be interested in making examples of people violating newly enacted antiabortion laws, and do so aggressively,” Franke says. “But I would be surprised if we saw a routine enforcement of the law.”
Zachary Schermele, NBC News
Katherine Franke, a law professor at Columbia University, said Tuesday’s ruling is a “huge loss” for LGBTQ equality, adding that the decision will allow public funds to flow to private schools that have policies that seem to conflict with public values.
“That certainly impacts LGBT students most directly, because these schools are well known in Maine for being quite homophobic,” Franke said. “What we’re seeing, I think, in this decision, is this new court bringing together several strands of its religious liberty jurisprudence, or doctrine, in a way that clearly elevates religious liberty rights over all other rights,” she said.
Alejandra O'Connell-Domenech, The Hill
“The way in which that draft opinion from Justice Alito kicks the legs out from under Roe v. Wade makes it very hard to see what these other rights have left to stand on,” Katherine Franke, director at the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School, told Changing America.
Wilko Martínez-Cachero, USC Annenberg Media
More than 20 states have at least introduced legislation banning or limiting race-related concepts that are supposedly a part of CRT. Last May, Utah Rep. Burgess Owens sponsored legislation calling CRT a “prejudicial ideological tool” that should not be taught in K-12 classrooms.
“It’s really more of a red herring,” said Candace Bond-Theriault, the director of racial justice policy and strategy at Columbia Law School’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. “It’s more of a talking point and media strategy to galvanize their bases to get out and vote.”
Resolutions like the one supported by Owens, she said, are ways to put something on the record rather than attempts to enact legislation.
“It’s hard to say what [Congress] can do because how can they ban something that isn’t happening?” Bond-Theriault said.
Kelsey Reichmann, Courthouse News Service
“It was really in 1979 and then 1980 in that presidential election that abortion started to become part of an evangelical message that really was connected to its political utility in getting a Republican in the White House,” Katherine Franke, professor of law and director of the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law at Columbia University, said in a phone call. “Since then it has crystallized as a moral and religious issue.”
“[Justice Alito’s] draft [opinion] goes to great lengths to exceptionalize abortion, to exceptionalize it in relation to other fundamental rights like same-sex marriage or contraception or interracial marriage, but also relative to other kinds of health care because as Justice Alito frames in that draft another human life is at issue,” Franke said. “For the court to treat abortion as if it were kind of sui generis, if it were its own unique procedure, or as he even notes in a treatise from the 13th century a form of homicide — which is really quite radical — is something we’ve just never seen from the Supreme Court.”
“I think the parallel to the pre-Civil War, the antebellum period, and the ways in which Southern states tried to have extraterritorial effects to the laws that legalized slavery are quite compelling,” Franke said.
Vyomica Berry, World Is One News (WION)
According to Katherine Franke, professor at Columbia University's Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, "The results of this case, if this opinion is actually the final opinion, will unravel constitutional rights that generations of Americans have taken for granted."
"Its limits are hard to anticipate," she added.
Roe v. Wade on the Brink of Extinction (podcast)
Constitutional law experts Stephen Vladeck, a Professor at the University of Texas Law School, and Katherine Franke, a Professor at Columbia Law School and Director of the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law, discuss the bombshell leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion which would reverse Roe v. Wade, leaving it to individual states to decide whether abortions are allowed. June Grasso hosts.
Courtney Weaver & Stefania Palma, Financial Times
Re-criminalising reproductive healthcare “will be for many people a death sentence”, says Katherine Franke, a professor at Columbia Law School.
“Opponents of abortion . . . have come up with a number of strategies to basically hollow out Roe to the point that it means nothing,” says Franke. If Roe is overturned, “it won’t be an on and off switch”.
Melissa Hellmann and April Simpson, Center for Public Integrity
Childbirth can be difficult, even dangerous, for some women, said Candace Bond-Theriault as her 11-month-old son whimpered in the background. Black women, in particular, face a high and rising maternal mortality rate. They die at three times the rate from pregnancy-related causes than white women.
“It’s dangerous and no one should be forced to go through that experience if they don’t want to,” said Bond-Theriault, director of racial justice policy and strategy at the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School.
Martin Pengelly, The Guardian
Katherine Franke, director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University, told the same site: “Once you kick out the stilts underneath Roe there’s nothing to rest those other decisions on.
“There’s no constitutional foundation for the Lawrence decision saying that criminalising same-sex sex is unconstitutional, or the Obergefell decision that says same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.”
France 24 (AFP)
"The results of this case, if this opinion is actually the final opinion, will unravel constitutional rights that generations of Americans have taken for granted," said professor Katherine Franke of Columbia University's Center for Gender and Sexuality Law.
Newsline, 1010 Wins Radio
"What this draft opinion does is kick the legs out from under Roe vs. Wade in such a way that it's hard to imagine how rights to same-sex marriage, rights to contraception, rights to privacy more generally have any legs to stand on. So Justice Alito, in his draft says no, no, this case is only about abortion, not about all those other rights, but it's a little hard to see how those rights will survive if this draft opinion becomes the final opinion from this court."
Paul Handley, Yahoo News
"Roe v. Wade was decided 50 years ago, and the right wing began to resist it and launched an enormous backlash immediately," said Columbia Law School Professor Katherine Franke.
Their stunning success at the Supreme Court, she said, represents a "radical retrenchment" of three generations of constitutional law.
Holly Honderich, RNZ
"It has been a 50 year campaign to overrule Roe v Wade and there certainly are enough members of the court now to do so," said Katherine Franke, director of the center for gender and sexuality law at Columbia University.
But she believes an outright repeal is unlikely. Instead, the court could uphold the Mississippi law while keeping both Roe and Casey in place.
Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson & Jordan S. Rubin, Bloomberg Law
“This opinion, if it becomes official constitutional law, would be a tipping point in a direction quickly sliding us backwards, really almost to the early part of the 20th century in terms of what the Constitution protects and how it limits state action that trammels what we now take for granted as fundamental rights,” said Columbia Law professor Katherine Franke, who directs the school’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law.
“Once you kick out the stilts underneath Roe,” Franke said, “there’s nothing to rest those other decisions on. There’s no constitutional foundation for the Lawrence decision saying that criminalizing same-sex sex is unconstitutional, or the Obergefell decision that says same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.”
Spectrum News NY1
Columbia Law School Professor Katherine Franke joined Errol Louis on “Inside City Hall” Tuesday to talk about the history of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and what could happen if the Supreme Court ends up overturning the landmark abortion case.
Who will be most impacted by this decision?
Katherine Franke: There is no question that women of color and Black women will be most immediately and severely impacted, particularly in a state like Mississippi. They have a term in Mississippi for forced sterilization of Black women in Mississippi, it's called a "Mississippi appendectomy". There were close to 200,000 Black women who were forcibly, without their consent, sterilized before Roe v. Wade. Nevermind the fact that Black women in Mississippi are three times as likely to die in childbirth and that number has been shown in studies to likely increase by another third if abortion is no longer legal in that state. So Black women, their lives and pregnancies are already in jeopardy and in a situation where they're much, much more likely to die even in the regime we live in now, where Roe hangs by a thread. ... In a sense this decision will be a death sentence for many Black women, not only in the South but in states like New York where Black and Puerto Rican women were 80% more likely to die in childbirth before Roe than were white women. So the racial impact of this kind of decision is absolutely predictable and it's quite clear that Black and brown women will be the ones to suffer the most and first.
Katherine Franke, The Nation
When I was little, I dressed as a cowboy. In that outfit, I was fierce, fabulous, and free. I would’ve fit right in in Texas. Except that I wouldn’t, since there is an “F” on my birth certificate indicating my sex. Now I find myself afraid—very afraid—for all the kids like me, whom Governor Abbott can’t seem to find a way to love just as we are.
Katherine Franke, The Nation
We documented in a recent report that there is almost no limit to the contexts in which religious objectors will try to avoid laws that apply to everyone else, including laws regulating child abuse, workplace sexual harassment, union organizing, equal pay and minimum wages, and public health. Not to mention the fact that LGBTQ people are already at an increased risk of experiencing discrimination in their daily lives, to say nothing of the disproportionate toll the pandemic has taken on the community.
Jenny Huh, Medill on the Hill
“We are now in what is a fairly familiar cycle of the conservative Republican base being mobilized by appeals to a fabricated threat of trans people in educational settings,” said Katherine Franke, director of The Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University. “It’s just heartbreaking to see the horrible things that are being said about trans kids and the ways in which health care professionals and educators, parents, community members and others are being asked to play an active and hateful role.”
Though the political playing field is recurring, experts say there is a key difference this time around.
“They’ve ratcheted up the panic from one in which it was cisgender girls who were the ones at risk to now, it’s the actual trans kids themselves who are at risk by their very own identity and their own reasonable medical needs,” Franke said.
Matt Lavietes, NBC
But if the court does overrule the landmark abortion law, some legal experts warn that previous rulings, including the landmark LGBTQ decisions, would be in danger.
“You can be sure that the Alliance Defending Freedom has the lawsuit ready to file the day after the Supreme Court issues an opinion broadly overruling Roe,” Katherine Franke, the director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School, said referring to a Christian law firm with a decades long track record of litigating against LGBTQ rights. “They will file the next day challenging Obergefell and even Lawrence. I have every confidence that that is what they’re to do.”
Dan Tracer, Queerty
Some, like Katherine Franke, the director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School, worry Kavanaugh’s approach is intentionally opening a door for the court to walk back those hard-won equal rights victories.
“You can be sure that the Alliance Defending Freedom has the lawsuit ready to file the day after the Supreme Court issues an opinion broadly overruling Roe,” she said. “They will file the next day challenging Obergefell and even Lawrence. I have every confidence that that is what they’re to do.”
Irin Carmon, New York Magazine
“Once we start thinking about trans people, that gets more complicated,” Katherine Franke, a law professor and the director of Columbia’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, told me.
Franke had to contend with this tension in co-writing a brief before Pennsylvania’s state supreme court, arguing that denying Medicaid coverage for abortion violates the state’s equal-rights amendment. “I want to win, and I care about how we get there,” Franke says. “We’re making sure that our briefs are not trans exclusive — but making them trans inclusive is an even bigger lift. For that reason, I’m much more attracted to the stereotyping argument: that the denial of abortion rights is about perpetuating a set of gender stereotypes about who belongs at home or in the boardroom or in politics.”
So Franke’s brief in the Pennsylvania case, co-authored with Ting Ting Cheng, acknowledges that “gender-based stereotypes and norms burden not only women but also men,” as well as those “who do not conform to traditional expectations of what it means to be a man or a woman.” Refusing to cover abortion on the state’s Medicaid, they write, “functionally relegates low income women and pregnant people generally to second class status.”
Maggie Baska, PinkNews
"Katherine Franke, the James L Dohr professor of law and director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University, told PinkNews that the Supreme Court overturning the Roe decision would not “necessarily implicate LGBTQ rights”.
She explained that the “likes of Mitchell” regarded the groundbreaking LGBT+ rulings with “equal contempt to that in which they hold Roe”, but the Supreme Court rested their decisions on Lawrence and Obergefell on a “complex combination of liberty and dignity rights”.
“Thus, if Roe falls, those cases still stand,” Franke told PinkNews. “Perhaps, more importantly, the court reaffirmed the equality rights of LGBTQ people a year and a half ago in Bostock v Clayton.”
But she warned that there is a “new tiering of rights” where the supreme court appears to be recognising some rights, “such as religious liberty”, as a “top tier right” above others.
“Over the last two years, the court has increasingly recognised a religious liberty right to be exempt from laws to which a person has a faith-based objection,” Franke explained. “In effect, the expansion of constitutional protections for religious liberty has had the effect of undermining rights otherwise secured by the constitution or federal laws – such as reproductive rights or rights to LGBTQ equality.”"
Scott Bixby, The Daily Beast
This is particularly true in light of the increasingly conservative makeup of the Supreme Court, said Katherine Franke, a professor at Columbia Law School and director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. In Franke’s view, the pro-choice movement’s reliance on courts has reached its logical end, with the only way to secure access to abortion nationwide being the passage of federal legislation.
“For too long, advocates working in this area have primarily relied on the courts and litigation strategies to defend access to reproductive health care,” Franke said, which she noted was only “meagerly” recognized under Roe.
“Rather than a backward-looking defensive strategy, we need to prioritize forward-looking new approaches that not only shore up the thin thread holding Roe, but expand access to reproductive health care,” Franke continued. “It is my hope that the synergies of a ‘whole-of-government’ strategy… can motivate new creative interventions.”
Reese Oxner, The Texas Tribune
"Katherine Franke, a professor of law at Columbia University and director of the university’s Center of Gender and Sexuality Law, said the Supreme Court acted on a “constitutional emergency” when “religious liberty rights were speculatively at risk.”
Yet, the court is ignoring the clear precedent of Roe v. Wade by allowing Texas’ law to stand, she said. She says justices’ inaction in this case versus their action in April shows the court’s willingness to “trivialize some rights over others.”"
Chris Hayes, MSNBC
Alexandra Brodsky: "[...] And so I think that a richer understanding of why sexual harassment is sex discrimination that avoids this problem, and I think is also just true, is actually just right, and I talk about this in the book, relying primarily on Katherine Franke's work, she's a law professional at Columbia, who talks about the ways in which sexual harassment is both based in sex stereotypes and then serves to replicate sex stereotypes."
Katherine Franke, New York Daily News
Excerpt: “When read together, the Texas abortion case, the COVID mass gatherings case and the eviction moratorium case, signal a startling new approach to constitutional rights forged by this Supreme Court, as the Law, Rights, and Religion Project at Columbia Law School noted in a recent report. Some rights are ranked as more fundamental, and thus more deserving of the court’s immediate attention. When these first-tier rights — religious exercise and property rights — are claimed to be under threat, the court senses a constitutional emergency that deserves immediate attention.
Second-tier rights — public health, reproductive rights, racial, sexual orientation and gender equality — are regarded as less worthy of the court’s protection and, in many cases, must now yield to the protection of more favored rights.”
Tricia Crimmins, Daily Dot
"Although Caine doesn’t engage with any legal measures or bodies to report sexual misconduct, she is certainly inciting change. Katherine Franke, a professor of law at Columbia University who also heads the University’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, calls Caine’s public shaming an extralegal measure, or an action beyond the scope of the law.
Franke told the Daily Dot that Caine’s “public shaming” works on multiple levels. Caine shames people who have reportedly sexually harassed others, sends a message to those sexual harassers who have not yet been outed, and keeps potential new harassers from engaging in sexual misconduct because they fear their names will end up on Caine’s Twitter account, Franke says."
Matthew Lavietes, Reuters
"Though the Grimm decision suggests it might be too soon to predict a rights rollback, last month’s foster parents’ ruling could encourage defendants to cite religious freedoms in cases against the LGBT+ community, analysts said.
“It’s only when gay rights or LGBT+ rights are objected to on religious grounds that I think we’ll see our rights be more vulnerable or asked to take the back seat,” said Katherine Franke, director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School."
Samantha Fields, Marketplace
"And Katherine Franke at Columbia Law School said it could end up applying pretty broadly. “The court is now ranking constitutional rights. There are top-tier rights, religious liberty at the very top, and equality, whether it’s race or sex or LGBT equality, is a second-tier right.”
Franke said that’s indicative of a shift at the Supreme Court."
Bloomberg Equality Summit
Participants: Alphonso David, President, Human Rights Campaign; Katherine Franke, James L. Dohr Professor of Law, Columbia University; and Michael Lopez, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise discuss the next legal fight for LGBTQ rights with Bloomberg’s Rakshita Saluja, Executive Editor, Equality at the Bloomberg Equality Summit.
Media Mentions 2020
Michelle R. Smith and Michael Biesecker, Associated Press
October 21, 2020
"Suzanne B. Goldberg, a professor at Columbia Law School who studies sexuality and gender law, said private schools have wide legal latitude to set admissions criteria. And, she said, Trinity probably isn’t covered by recent Supreme Court rulings outlawing employment discrimination against LGBTQ people because of its affiliation with a religious community. But, she added, cases addressing those questions are likely to come before the high court in the near future, and Barrett’s past oversight of Trinity’s discriminatory policies raises concerns."
Lori Sokol Ph.D., Women's eNews
September 25, 2020
"Still, she did not allow any of these challenges stop her. “She understood exactly what kind of change she wanted to make –and be—in the world because she had experienced it so personally,” said Katherine Franke, Columbia Law School professor and Director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, who was a part of a symposium in 2013 in honor of Justice Ginsburg."
Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, Ms Magazine
August 3, 2020
"Legal scholars agree: Constitutional law expert and Dean of U.C. Berkeley Law Erwin Chemerinsky has publicly argued the unconstitutionality of the tampon tax; the director of Columbia Law School’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, Katherine Franke, told The New York Times that leveraging legal claims around menstruation is a necessary step to “highlight a day-to-day way in which women experience discrimination in one of their most basic bodily functions.”"
Nick Martin, New Republic
June 17, 2020
As Suzanne Goldberg, a co-director of Columbia Law School’s Center for Sexuality and Gender Law, told Sarah Jones for New York magazine, the decision “does not mean a complete end to discrimination against LGBT workers, but it does mean that employers are on notice that continuing to discriminate is unlawful and may be very costly.”
Oscar Lopez and Matthew Lavietes, Thomson Reuters Foundation
June 16, 2020
“The language signals that the court could likely rule in favor of exempting religious groups in future cases, said Katherine Franke, director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School.
"If you compare how impassioned the court is about religious liberty with how technical they are about workplace equality, I foresee when those two values come up against each other, that religious liberty will seem more important than nondiscrimination protections."”
Harper Neidig and John Kruzel, The Hill
June 15, 2020
“I was quite surprised to see how the Court ruled in this case,” Katherine Franke, a law professor at Columbia University, told The Hill. “The fact that two of the more conservative members of the Supreme Court joined in the decision reaching this result today signals a tipping point in securing full equality for LGBT people.”
“Quite clearly, this ruling will have implications beyond the workplace, and will include rights to equality for LGBT people in healthcare, housing, public accommodations, foster care, and other important settings,” she added.
Franke, the Columbia University professor, predicted that even with Monday’s landmark decision, the court will continue on its rightward course as it prepares to release a number of decisions in high-stakes cases by the end of the month.
“So, despite the huge victory today for LGBTQ rights, this remains a very conservative Court and I expect that the right will be consoled by other decisions issued before the end of the term on abortion rights, DACA, and other hot button issues,” Franke said.
Asher Stockler, Newsweek
June 15, 2020
“Columbia Law School professor Suzanne Goldberg, who leads the school's Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, told Newsweek that she believes many of these problems could be resolved through an evidentiary inquiry.
But, she said, there was ample room within court precedent to ensure that LGBT employees would be covered by Title VII, and believes such a ruling from the Supreme Court was the correct interpretation.
"Courts began to recognize some time ago, after Price Waterhouse, that drawing invisible lines between sex stereotyping of gay and non-gay employees does not make sense," Goldberg said. "This is a non-partisan issue. These are straightforward questions about applying law that on its face tells employers they cannot treat an employee differently because of their sex or the stereotypes associated with their sex."”
Sarah Jones, New York Magazine
June 15, 2020
“But Monday’s verdict will still have a deterrent effect on employers, said Suzanne Goldberg, who co-directs Columbia Law School’s Center for Sexuality and Gender Law. (Goldberg filed an amicus brief in the bundled cases.) “Today’s decision does not mean a complete end to discrimination against LGBT workers, but it does mean that employers are on notice that continuing to discriminate is unlawful and may be very costly,” she pointed out.
“The hope is that employers will take this decision as an incentive to ensure that their workplace environment is free from all forms of discrimination, because of any type of discrimination interferes with people’s ability to do their work,” she added. “This is true for racial discrimination, for sexual harassment, for LGBT discrimination, for discrimination against people with disabilities, or discrimination on religious grounds. This ruling is one piece of a much broader fabric that shapes employers responsibilities to their workers.””
Lena Felton, The Lily (A product of The Washington Post)
May 4, 2020
In other words, the U.S. women’s team is “getting punished for their success,” according to Katherine Franke, a Columbia University law professor and director of the school’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. What’s more, the lawsuit falls into a much longer history of sex-based discrimination in sports, Franke says, in which women’s teams have been forced to bargain “in the shadow of pay-based inequality.”
Franke says that it’s “very possible” that the ruling will be overturned on appeal. Given that the Equal Pay Act protects pay parity for men and women, she says, it would “be the right thing to do.”
On Monday, Vota watched a “Good Morning America” interview with USWNT co-captains Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, in which they vowed they’d keep fighting for equal pay. It gave her hope.
“They just have the same mind-set, yeah this is extremely disappointing, but we’re going to keep fighting because we’re going to get there at some point,” she says. “If they’re going to keep going, then I guess we’re going to keep going, too.”
Oscar Lopez, Reuters
March 25, 2020
“'You start with adoption and foster care and you build out from there to restaurants, hotels,' said Katherine Franke, director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University. 'Once you start down this road of allowing religious exemptions to generally applicable regulation of businesses, where does this stop?'”
Katherine Stewart, The New York Review of Books
February 28, 2020
“In 2018, the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law, a law and policy think tank based at Columbia Law School, conducted a survey in conjunction with the healthcare nonprofit Public Health Solutions that examined the particular danger this arrangement poses to women of color. Black women are three to four times as likely as white women to die of pregnancy complications.
The authors of the project’s report, “Bearing Faith: The Limits of Catholic Health Care for Women of Color,” found that “in many states women of color disproportionately receive reproductive health care restricted by the ERDs.” In short, they reported: “Pregnant women of color are more likely than their white counterparts to receive reproductive health care dictated by bishops rather than medical doctors.””
#MeToo is just beginning (Op-ed)
Suzanne Goldberg, The Washington Post
February 24, 2020
[Excerpt] “Why have we done so little to stop sexual harassment and assault in our individual communities and as a nation, and what should we do now? Or, in terms of Hollywood, how could so many people stand by when “everyone knew” something was wrong, whether or not they thought the behavior was criminal?
This reckoning with ourselves is, or should be, one of the enduring legacies of Harvey Weinstein. We ought to take a hard look, for example, at the truth-seeking function of the criminal process and ask ourselves whether cross-examinations of victims that tap into sexual assault myths — “She couldn’t have been raped because she stayed friendly with him” or “She was using him just as much as he was using her” — are barriers to justice.”
Danny Lewis, WNYC News
February 18, 2020
“Despite the fact that so many accounts of Weinstein's alleged behavior have been reported, Suzanne Goldberg, the director of Columbia University Law School's Center for Gender and Sexuality, told WNYC host Jami Floyd that it is often still difficult to prosecute people for sexual harassment and assault. "The prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Harvey Weinstein committed rape, that he committed sexual assault, that he repeated these acts against multiple women," Goldberg said.”
Anna Nicolaou, Financial Times
February 14, 2020
“Whatever the verdict, this trial will surely cast a long shadow over future sex crime cases and encourage — or discourage — other women in reporting allegations. “Many sexual assault victims and survivors are watching carefully to see what kind of treatment they might receive if they dare bring an accusation in the criminal process,” says Suzanne Goldberg, co-director of Columbia Law School’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. ‘These women face a skepticism that other crime victims don’t face. In most robberies or even criminal fraud cases, the presumption is not that you might be making this up.’”
Media Mentions: 2018 - 2019
BBC World News Update Broadcast (Radio Broadcast)
October 8, 2019
[Summary] Katherine Franke is interviewed about the meaning and implications of the October 8, 2019 Supreme Court cases deciding whether the federal employment law that bars discrimination based on sex includes claims of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Andy Lee Roth and April Anderson, In These Times
October 8, 2019
“Sex,” Katherine Franke, a law professor at Columbia University, told the New York Times, “is a confounding term in our culture, in our language and certainly in the law.” As the Supreme Court opens a new session, its justices are set to tackle the conundrum of defining “sex.” At issue is whether Title VII of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employment discrimination “because of sex,” applies to gay, lesbian, and transgender employees.
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.”
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.
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"
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..."
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'"
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.'"
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."
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.'"
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.'"
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
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
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."
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."
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."
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.'"
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.'"
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
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.
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.'"
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.'"
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."
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.’"
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.'"
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.'"
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.
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.
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.'"
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
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.'"
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."
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.'"
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."
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.'"
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."
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.
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.
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.'"
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.'"
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.'"
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."
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."