The following Sonoma State University professors are available for commentary on issues surrounding same-sex marriage as the first federal trial to determine if the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from outlawing same-sex marriage gets underway Monday.
The proceedings, which are expected to last two to three weeks, involve a challenge to Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban approved by California voters in November 2008.
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* Don Romesburg, Assistant Professor of Women's and Gender Studies, teaches courses in which he explores the political, legal, historical, cultural and ethical stakes involved in same-sex marriage. He can speak to several concerns:
"First, in the past decade marriage equality has become the principle action item for the advancement of LGBT rights. Since October 2008, it has exploded into a mass movement of diverse grassroots efforts, advocacy by civil rights organizations, diverging legal strategies, and legislative efforts. Given the recent setbacks in Maine, New York, and New Jersey, the stakes for this most recent federal trial have become even higher.
Second, the core issues involved with marriage equality in terms of civil rights are securing access to healthcare, protecting property and relationship rights, and extending equal access to full citizenship to same-sex couples. Marriage equality ensures LGBT couples protection from second-tier status within political, legal, and social structures. At the federal level, other issues, including immigration rights, come into play.
In this federal case, historians and social scientists are testifying to the changing meanings of marriage, the ongoing problems of antigay discrimination, and the differences and similarities between same-sex versus opposite-sex couples and parents. These will all be considered in determining whether marriage, as a fundamental federal right, extends to same-sex couples.
Third, stakes for LGBT rights beyond marriage equality include affirmation of not just same-sex couples, but of the integrity of all people to be able to live healthy lives free of harassment in a dynamic, socially diverse society. Marriage equality alone cannot solve these complex challenges.
Other issues, such as healthcare reform and employment non-discrimination protections, are key. Recent trends signal that some LGBT people are eager to look beyond the marriage equality movement to more expansive visions of meaningful democracy that could, potentially, benefit far more than just LGBT people."
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* David McCuan, associate professor of political science at Sonoma State University, is available for comment on the politics of Same-Sex Marriage and Same-Sex Unions (SSM/SSU) in both California and across the country.
McCuan is an expert on California state and local politics. He has written extensively in this area, including a specific focus on the rise of nationwide bans across the U.S. in his book, "Initiative - Centered Politics: The New Politics of Direct Democracy" (2004).
He has closely followed the politics of same sex marriage across the country and how the "culture war" battle over SSM/SSU has affected the politics of both the Democratic and Republican parties especially in the wake of 2008 election results.
McCuan can speak to the broader issues affecting politics based on actions taking place in San Francisco, across the country, and in Washington, D.C. As one example, his analysis includes a focus on the rise of ballot box movements to ban SSM/SSU and more recent legislative attempts to loosen such bans.
The issue of SSM/SSU was first tested in Hawaii and in Alaska in 1998 and in California in March 2000. From these victories, proponents of this issue moved inland placing the issue on ballots in Nebraska and Nevada where they both passed handily giving rise to the chances that this reform is here to stay and likely to flourish as a battle on ballots across the country.
McCuan has provided commentary and analysis to CNN, The Wall Street Journal, as well as regional and national news outlets on the politics and practices of state politics.
McCuan teaches in the fields of state and local politics, campaigns and elections, and political behavior. He is also graduate coordinator of the Master's in Public Administration program at the University.
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