My interview of Lambda Legal ED Kevin Cathcart for my series, 40 Years After Stonewall, was referenced in a 2015 issue of the Michigan Journal of Gender and Law.
Wyatt Fore’s article, “DeBoer v. Snyder: A Case Study In Litigation and Social Reform,” came weeks before the US Supreme Court ruling in the landmark civil rights case, Obergefell v. Hodges. SCOTUS ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. Fore’s abstract reads:
This Note examines DeBoer v. Snyder, the Michigan marriage case, with the goal of providing litigators and scholars the proper context for our current historical moment in which (1) the legal status of LGBT people; and (2) the conventional wisdom about the role of impact litigation in social reform movements are rapidly evolving.
On page 192, under the section, “DeBoer: A Defence of Litigation as a Social Reform Tool,” Fore writes:
Commentators often made the criticism that the LGBT movement relies “too much on the litigation groups and on legal victories” instead of “build[ing] a robust enough political arm,” resulting in a situation whereby “[g]ay marriage litigation may also have distracted attention from other items on the gay rights agenda.”
During the interview, I asked Cathcart if the idea of “radical” had changed in the 40 years since Stonewall, and to differentiate legal work from that of other advocacy groups, to which he answered:
What I’m about to say may seem like a strange criticism of the movement (coming from me), but I think that for a long time the movement and LGBT people relied too much on the litigation groups and on legal victories to move our rights forward and didn’t build a robust enough political arm. The work of building more political strength has been going on the past several years but we are weak on the ground in lots of places, including Washington, D.C. where we are still fighting for passage of Hate Crimes and employment protections and for a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Our movement needs more legal resources, but it also needs more political power; when we have both we will be unstoppable.
As Lambda Legal’s Online Content Specialist for two years, I ghostwrote Cathcart’s monthly column and for lead attorneys on landmark cases, including Varnum v. Brien. Many thanks to Fore for including the interview, and for this informative article.