Equality and Justice for Lesbian and Gay Families and Relationships.

Nancy D. Polikoff, American University Washington College of Law


This article describes two major developments since 1989 that shape Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) advocacy today. Those developments are two movements with marriage at their core, one seeking marriage for same-sex couples and the other seeking promotion of life-long heterosexual marriage. The author criticizes today's efforts towards marriage equality that stray from support for the diverse families formed by LGBT - and heterosexual - people and that ignore underlying injustices in the legal significance of marriage today. She presents an alternate family policy vision and examines the ruling in Braschi v. Stahl Assocs. Co., 543 N.E.2d 49 (N.Y. 1989), where Braschi, a gay man, won the right to keep his home in a rent-controlled New York City apartment after the death of his partner. The landlord had sought to evict Braschi because his name was not on the apartment lease and he was not a surviving family member. The court ruled that the "the intended protection against sudden eviction should not rest on fictitious legal distinctions or genetic history, but instead should find its foundation in the reality of family life." The author examines where the Braschi case fits into today's advocacy for gay and lesbian families, and reflects on the way ahead.