My 2009 interview of Lambda Legal Executive Director Kevin Cathcart for the 40 Years After Stonewall series was cited in the Michigan Journal of Gender and Law.
In June 2009, reading Jeremy Peters’s op-ed for The New York Times, “Why the Gay Rights Movement Has No National Leader,” I was curious to know if what he’d insinuated was true. Over the next 10 days, I reached out to surviving GLF founders, who, by that time, were scattered across the country.
The result was 40 Years After Stonewall, a commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots and the start of the modern queer rights movement.
Wyatt Fore’s 2015 article, “DeBoer v. Snyder: A Case Study In Litigation and Social Reform,” came weeks before the US Supreme Court ruling in the landmark civil rights case, Obergefell v. Hodges. SCOTUS ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. Fore’s abstract reads:
This Note examines DeBoer v. Snyder, the Michigan marriage case, with the goal of providing litigators and scholars the proper context for our current historical moment in which (1) the legal status of LGBT people; and (2) the conventional wisdom about the role of impact litigation in social reform movements are rapidly evolving.
On page 192, under the section, “DeBoer: A Defence of Litigation as a Social Reform Tool,” Fore writes:
Commentators often made the criticism that the LGBT movement relies “too much on the litigation groups and on legal victories” instead of “build[ing] a robust enough political arm,” resulting in a situation whereby “[g]ay marriage litigation may also have distracted attention from other items on the gay rights agenda.”
During the interview with Cathcart, I asked if the idea of “radical” had changed in the 40 years since Stonewall, and to differentiate legal work from that of other advocacy groups, to which he answered:
What I’m about to say may seem like a strange criticism of the movement (coming from me), but I think that for a long time the movement and LGBT people relied too much on the litigation groups and on legal victories to move our rights forward and didn’t build a robust enough political arm. The work of building more political strength has been going on the past several years but we are weak on the ground in lots of places, including Washington, D.C. … Our movement needs more legal resources, but it also needs more political power; when we have both we will be unstoppable.
As Lambda Legal’s Online Content Specialist for two years, I ghostwrote Cathcart’s monthly column and for lead attorneys on landmark cases, including Varnum v. Brien. Here’s what Angelo Ragaza, Lambda Legal’s marketing and editorial director, says about my work:
Chris was instrumental in producing the organization’s national membership magazine as well as weekly news rotations for the website. He seeks and supports synergy between departments and likes to tell fresh, compelling stories that represent the community and the organization well. He’s a stickler for accuracy and is passionate about authenticity in what he and others produce. His work included assisting attorneys with key messaging and later working with the executive director on his monthly column. Chris is passionate about the relationship between science, technology and social activism and advocacy, and a valuable and energized partner in any team in these fields.
My gratitude to Fore and the Michigan Journal of Gender and Law for citing 40 Years After Stonewall. I hope the series will inspire activists and historians for many years to come.
Photo: Peter Hujar. All rights reserved.