Women's and Gender Studies Hosts Marriage Equality Conference

April 15 (at Vermont Law School) and April 16 (at UVM)

The theme of the conference is "The Law and Politics of Marriage Equality: Vermont, the Nation, and the World." It has been scheduled to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the coming of civil unions to the state of Vermont -- a first in the United States. It also marks the 2009 creation of the option of legal marriage for same-sex couples in the state -- the result of a legislative overturning of a gubernatorial veto, the first such legislative creation of marriage equality in the country.

This gathering of scholars and advocates will use the Vermont anniversaries as launching points for considering the question of how social and legal change have been made in the area of marriage equality. The participants are particularly interested in considering the role of judges and courts in creating change, as compared to legislatures, nongovernmental advocacy organizations, and grassroots protests. They will compare Vermont to other states, will consider the politics of marriage equality at the national level, and will compare the U.S. to other countries.

The conference is the product of a rich collaboration between scholars at Vermont Law School and those affiliated with the Women's and Gender Studies Program at UVM. They have been planning the conference since the spring of 2009. They will produce an edited book for a leading academic press based upon the conference.

Andrew Koppleman"class="imageleftAndrew Koppelman, the John Paul Stevens Professor of Law at Northwestern University, will give the keynote address April 15 at Vermont Law School. An expert in constitutional law and political philosophy, his current research focuses on paternalism and perfectionism in the law, with special attention to the enforcement of morals.

Below is a list of other scholars who will be participating in the conference. For more information, please contact: wmst@uvm.edu or call 802-656-4282.

Professor Mary Ann Case is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School. Among the subjects she teaches are feminist jurisprudence, constitutional law, European legal systems, marriage, and regulation of sexuality. While her diverse research interests include German contract law and the First Amendment, her scholarship to date has concentrated on the regulation of sex, gender, and sexuality, and on the early history of feminism.

Professor White, who holds both a Ph.D. in the history of American religion and a Master’s in Divinity from Princeton University, is currently researching a history of Protestant church debates over homosexuality. Her book on this subject is forthcoming from the University of North Carolina press.

Lee Swislow has served as GLAD’s Executive Director since 2005. Since coming to GLAD, Lee has worked to deepen the organization’s work throughout New England by building strong coalitions with state equality organizations to achieve shared goals.

Mary Bonauto has been the Civil Rights Project Director at Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) since 1990. Her practice concentrates on impact litigation for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities, as well as people living with HIV or AIDS.

NCLR is one of the nation's leading advocacy organizations for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Minter was lead counsel for same-sex couples in the landmark California marriage equality case which held that same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry and that laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation are inherently discriminatory and subject to the highest level of constitutional scrutiny.

Dr. Barker’s research interests include the legal recognition of (sexual and non-sexual) relationships, particularly same-sex marriage; feminist theory; queer theory; and welfare reform.

Before coming to Yale, Graeme Reid was a sexuality researcher at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) in Johannesburg. He is the co-author of Waiting to Happen: HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa and the co-editor of Refiguring the Archive, Sex and Politics in South Africa, and Men Behaving Differently. His research interests include systemic violence, HIV/AIDS, masculinities and gay self-identification, and cultural expression in post-apartheid South Africa. He has been actively involved in various LGBT organizations in South Africa, including the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality, which lobbied for the inclusion of "sexual orientation" in the South African Constitution.

Author of Civil Wars: A Battle for Gay Marriage (the only book-length study of the judicial and legislative politics that produced civil unions in Vermont in 1999).

Associate Professor Adele Morrison teaches courses in Criminal Law, Family Law and Child, Family and State. She most recently served as visiting professor of law and acting director of the Civil Justice Clinic at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.

Professor Gil Kujovich specializes in constitutional law, civil rights law, and administrative law. His courses at Vermont Law School include Constitutional Law, Civil Rights Law, and Federal Courts. Kujovich received his BA degree from Middlebury College in 1969 and his JD degree from Harvard University in 1975.

Professor Leckey teaches constitutional law and family law, and conducts research in those fields as well as comparative law. He has been a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada since 2003 and is a member of the Legal Issues Committee of Egale Canada and of the editorial board of the Canadian Journal of Law and Society. He will be speaking on the following topic: “Same-Sex Marriage in Constitutional and Family Law: A Canadian View.”

Professor Andersen specializes in American politics and public law. She is particularly interested in how individuals and social movements try to use the law to effect social change. One of her current research projects focuses on the politics of same-sex marriage. Another looks at the multi-movement activism.