Love Unites Us: Winning the Freedom to Marry in America
Edited by Kevin M. Cathcart and Leslie J. Gabel-Brett
New Press. 352 pages, $27.95
After Marriage Equality: The Future of LGBT Rights
Edited by Carlos A. Ball
NYU Press. 368 pages, $45.
HALF A YEAR into the Trump Presidency, and it is often hard to remember that anything preceded it. Movement activists find themselves preoccupied with scenarios that may at any moment materialize. How will Jeff Sessions wield his power in the Department of Justice to chip away at LGBT rights? Will the Department of Education under Betsy DeVos make schools less safe for LGBT youth? Will Religious Freedom Restoration Acts pass in Republican-dominated state legislatures and create new forms of discrimination? Will a more conservative Supreme Court encourage officials in red states to bring cases challenging the right to marry?
I am not dismissing these concerns. But we also need to carry into the coming years a sense of history, an awareness of our accomplishments, and how they were attained. History reminds us of what has worked and what has not. It offers lessons about what remains to be achieved and how best to reach our next goals.
Two anthologies put together before Trump’s nomination and published before his election encourage reflection on our recent history and its lessons. They also complement one another well and deserve to be read together. Love Unites Us reviews the fight for marriage equality. Its contributors are, almost without exception, individuals who worked on the issue: plaintiffs who sued for their right to marry; lawyers who argued cases; and activists who mobilized against anti-marriage ballot initiatives and for freedom-to-marry legislation. By contrast, After Marriage Equality addresses the question of what is next now that marriage has been attained.