UCR Scholars Comment on Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Decisions

Professors Ben Bishin and Jane Ward comment on DOMA and Proposition 8 decisions

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Ben Bishin, associate professor of political science, and Jane Ward, associate professor of women’s studies, at the University of California, Riverside, each shared their thoughts on today’s decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8.

Ben Bishin, associate professor of political science

Benjamin Bishin

Ben Bishin

“The Supreme Court today ruled DOMA unconstitutional as a violation of the 5th Amendment’s protection of individual liberty . Doing so sets the stage for a series of challenges to the more than 30 states that have laws banning gay marriage. The Court’s decision reaffirms the idea that democracy is not defined solely by majority rule, but by other fundamental democratic values, like liberty, which cannot be infringed upon without just cause.

“Proposition 8 was effectively overturned today when the Court ruled that its supporters lacked standing to defend the law in Court. The ruling has the effect of making gay marriage legal in California, but does not directly affect the status of marriage outside the state, except insofar as it will require gay marriage supporters in other states to bring cases elsewhere if they wish to have bans overturned.

“In combination, these rulings set the stage for future cases seeking to rule gay marriage bans unconstitutional nationwide based on the reasoning in Windsor.

“It is also important to recognize that while these rulings are unequivocally a step toward marriage equality for gays and lesbians, our research suggests that contrary to the conventional wisdom, they are not likely to be met by a negative public opinion backlash. In fact, our experiments suggests that to the extent that rulings like these influence public opinion, they are likely to lead to more rather than less favorable feelings toward gays and lesbians.”

Bishin is the co-author of article “Patience or Progress: Should We Fear Opinion Backlash on Gay Marriage?” which was published on June 18, 2013, as well as “Tyranny of the Minority: The Subconstituency Politics Theory” (Temple University Press, 2010). He can be reached on his cell at (951) 288-6847 or by e-mail at ben.bishin@ucr.edu.

Jane Ward, associate professor of women’s studies

Jane Ward

Jane Ward

“One of the most important and overlooked aspects of the DOMA decision is that it has extended a right to a population that is ambivalent and divided about the meaning and desirability of that right.

“Of course same-sex couples want hospital visitation, immigration rights, survivor benefits, secure guardianship of their children, and so forth. However, the assimilation and legitimacy attached to legal marriage is at odds with many of the counter-cultural and revolutionary impulses of the early gay liberation movement, which mounted broad critiques of marriage itself.

“Many of us remember and remain invested in those political critiques, even as we want basic rights and dignities. We know, as earlier gay and lesbian activists knew, that these rights need not be tied to marriage. The impact of this decision on the LGBT movement cannot fully be understood without attention to this ambivalence.”

Ward is the author of “Respectably Queer: Diversity Culture in LGBT Activist Organizations” (Vanderbilt University Press, 2008) and the “Diversity Discourse and Multi-Identity Work in Lesbian and Gay Organizations” chapter which appears in “Identity Work in Social Movements: Negotiating Sameness and Difference in Activist Environments” (University of Minnesota Press, 2008). She can be reached on her cell at (805) 637-9991 or by e-mail at jane.ward@ucr.edu.

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-5893
E-mail: ross.french@ucr.edu

Archived under: Politics/Society, , , , , , , , , ,

Top of Page