Equality and Justice for Lesbian and Gay Families and Relationships

Nancy Polikoff, American University Washington College of Law


In 1989, Tom Stoddard and Paula Ettelbrick, attorneys with the gay rights group Lambda Legal, published side-by-side opposing essays about whether marriage for same-sex couples should be a movement priority. Rutgers Law Review is publishing a 2009 symposium commemorating the 20th anniversary of these now-iconic essays. This article is part of that symposium. It places the Ettelbrick essay, and the groundbreaking case of Braschi v. Stahl Associates decided the same year, in the context of the gay rights movement's strong support of family diversity. It then critiques the contemporary right-wing marriage movement for blaming all social problems on family diversity/aka the decline of life-long heterosexual marriage. The gay rights marriage equality movement has fallen short as well for its acceptance of the primacy of marriage and its concomitant retreat from justice for diverse families and relationships. The article offers an alternative vision in which the law does not privilege marriage.