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Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing All Families under the Law (Queer Ideas) Hardcover – Bargain Price, February 1, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, February 1, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With her freshman book, law professor Polikoff, who has taught, litigated and written about family law, civil procedure and sexuality for more than 30 years, deftly argues that the law's narrow definitions of family and marriage no longer work in today's society—not just for the LGBT community but the country at large. With many households following untraditional family models, Polikoff says, we need to look at ways the law can change to value all families beyond those created by marriage, including same and different-sexed, married and unmarried couples. Polikoff draws on legal history and contemporary (often eye-opening) court cases to make her argument. Topics such as inheritance, tax consequences, workers' compensation death benefits, social security, probate, adoption and health care, plus their impact the diversity of today's family units are simplified for the reader. Polikoff wades through legislation and legalese with style and substance, plus a touch of flair. Impeccably researched, the book offers an evocative read that takes in the full breadth of the issues affecting marriages and avoids pedantry while remaining persuasive. (Feb.)
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A much-needed intervention in the contemporary debate about marriage and family. Polikoff's argument is provocative, illuminating, and original. —John D'Emilio, author of Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin

"Polikoff mobilizes an impressive array of legal history and contemporary court cases to show how marriage, whether same-sex or heterosexual, has ceased to be the only place where people incur long-term obligations. She argues vigorously that our society needs to find new ways of determining when legally-enforceable responsibilities and entitlements have accrued in interpersonal relationships."—Stephanie Coontz, author, Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage

"This book really matters. It is brilliant and thoughtful, not simply about a set of laws, but as a manifesto to transform the way we understand, recognize and respect the reality of our diverse and complex family compositions. Polikoff grounds her arguments in the 35 year history of social change activism in this country to construct a passionate and nuanced argument for expanding our same sex marriage activism to include all of the ways people love, form families and build community."—Amber Hollibaugh, Senior Strategist, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and author of My Dangerous Desires: A Queer Girl Dreaming her Way Home

"Passionate but completely grounded in reality, Polikoff challenges LGBT rights advocates to see beyond gay equality arguments and question the fundamental fairness of limiting family recognition based on marriage, gay or straight. It is a powerful call for social justice."—Nan D. Hunter, founder of the American Civil Liberties Union Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project and Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School

"A provocative and perspicuous intervention in one of the most devilish recent debates in U.S. law and politics…In a principled yet pragmatic analysis, Polikoff mounts a compelling case against the continued grip of ‘conjugalism’ on our family law and policy. Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage challenges us to imagine and build a political consensus that respects the realities of contemporary American kinship and family life, in all its complexity."—Kendall Thomas, Nash Professor of Law, Columbia University

"Why is an ultra-right legal group supporting the custody suit of a lesbian mom? Nancy Polikoff, author of Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing All Families under the Law asks the questions in a fascinating post today at Beacon Broadside." —Mombian

Product Details

  • Series: Queer Ideas
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (February 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807044326
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,362,299 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Nancy Polikoff, a professor of law at the American University Washington College of Law, has researched the very current topic of 'marriage rights' that for the most part are regarded by the general public as the battle between same sex and different sex marriage, an area where there is very little equality or respect to be gleaned from the media, and hence the public. Polikoff wisely approaches this disparity of human rights from an angle that allows every reader to become involved in her plea for reconsideration of what is labeled (and respected) as 'family'.

Too often books on the subject of gay rights are so skewed that they end up preaching to the choir or throwing fire on a malignant issue: the audience craving equality under the law for legalizing same sex marriage is balanced against the radical right who condemn the domestic partnership idea as a sin. Polikoff recognizes this schism and in her very natural manner of writing poses examples of units of people whose rights are denied by Social Security policies, child care conflicts resulting from the definition of 'parent', and even rights for visitation in hospitals or hospices when the allowed visitors are 'family only'. Why must the label 'marriage' be the deciding factor in units of loving people whose potential for and production of caring homes be the norm?

The subtitle of Polikoff's fine book - VALUING ALL FAMILIES UNDER THE LAW - is well chosen and in many ways is the major message of her book. She asserts that all family relationships and households deserve equal rights now saved only for married couples.
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Format: Hardcover
I highly recommend this book to college students, law students, attorneys, religious leaders, and policy makers - gay or straight - anyone who is searching for a better way to conceptualize family values in this country. The author provides an in-depth history of the LGBT rights movement juxtaposed against the rise of the Christian Right and delivers a very moving argument for why we should start to untangle sex-based relationships from the civil institution of marriage and move to a model based on dependency - the original purpose of marriage. In today's modern world, there are many different kinds of families - gay couples raising adopted children; single mothers living with their siblings; adult children helping their elderly parents; etc. etc. These families are built on dependency - each individual supports or depends on another and the government should intervene in a way that rewards such relationships, e.g. by providing health insurance and other benefits that are often provided only for spouses or unrelated domestic partners. This book is a fascinating read and would make an excellent addition to the collection of any scholar of history, politics, feminism, or religion.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Probably too late for this approach, but a great book for those who are interested in the legal aspects of marriage, straight OR gay. I found it a very good read. Gives some not-so-obvious ideas to ponder.
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Format: Hardcover
Marriage should wholly be a spiritual, religious, and cultural experience - in no point should it have any legal ramifications or even benefits, argues "Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing all Families under the Law". Author Nancy D. Polikoff, a professor of law, says that by legally recognizing some relationships, regardless of gender makeup, as legal and not others, many families suffer, arguing that the marriage movement rejects LGBT equality, no fault divorce, and childbearing and sex outside marriage. Cunningly argued, "Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing all Families under the Law" is enthusiastically recommended for any social issues or gay issues community library shelves or for anyone who wants a differing opinion on the marriage issue.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This text offers an important expansion of the narrow question: are you for or against 'gay marriage'? By asking us to expand our vision and calling for a broader revision of family law, the author offers a way out of the gay morality trap that will lead to greater rights and autonomy for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. At times the text is a bit dense and repetitive and could have benefited from some closer editing but the importance of the ideas makes it worth slogging through what is at times plodding prose.
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