Sociological Perspective on Marriage Equality Debate

Professor Publishes Article on How Protests Led to Other Political Actions

In 2004, demonstrations and protests in favor of marriage equality were observed by civil rights activists and same-sex couples across the United States. These acts were largely spurred by the mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, and his act of defiance in ordering the County Clerk to issue marriage licenses, against California’s Defense of Marriage Act. This was seen as a sign of things to come by many optimistic activists until 2008 when Proposition 8 banned gay marriage in California.

The gay marriage ban was not the end of the debate, however; for many it was only the beginning. Some experts, including Verta Taylor, believe that the Marriage Equality Movement that was so successful in 2004 has been reignited in order to overturn Proposition 8. Verta Taylor, author and professor of sociology at the University of California Santa Barbara, published an article in the December 2009 issue of the American Sociological Review calling attention to the extremely volatile issue in California and the United States.

In the article, Taylor alludes to the pivotal role of the 2004 protests and shows the likely historical significance by saying: “The San Francisco weddings served as a public and dramatic tactic to claim basic civil rights for gay and lesbian people … Our research shows that the month-long wedding protest sparked other forms of political actions, including legal challenges and the formation of social movement organizations that ignited a statewide campaign for marriage equality in California.” She is reportedly not the only one with this view; it seems as though other sociologists, activists, and political leaders are helping lead the way toward gender equality. This will likely continue to be a highly contested topic in Santa Barbara, California, and the United States in coming elections.

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