Although gay, lesbian, and queer theory are related practices, the three terms delineate separate emphases marked by different assumptions about the relationship between gender and sexuality.
The Harlem Renaissance, an African-American literary movement of the 1920s and 1930s, included several important gay and lesbian writers.
Oscar Wilde is important both as an accomplished writer and as a symbolic figure who exemplified a way of being homosexual at a pivotal moment in the emergence of gay consciousness.
Langston Hughes, whose literary legacy is enormous and varied, was closeted, but homosexuality was an important influence on his literary imagination, and many of his poems may be read as gay texts.
Conflicted over his own sexuality, Tennessee Williams wrote directly about homosexuality only in his short stories, his poetry, and his late plays.
Erotic and pornographic works have been written in many cultures since ancient times and recently have flourished with the relaxation of censorship.
Feminist literary theory is a complex, dynamic area of study that draws from a wide range of critical theories.
James Baldwin, a pioneering figure in twentieth-century literature, wrote sustained and articulate challenges to American racism and mandatory heterosexuality.
On May 24, 2012, Judge Claudia Wilken of the U.S. District Court for Northern California became the latest judge to rule that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.
The ruling comes in Dragovich v. U.S. Department of the Treasury, which involves California state employees who were barred because of DOMA from enrolling their same-sex spoouses in the state's long-term care program, which is regulated by federal tax law.
As Chris Geidner of MetroWeekly reports, Wilken found that Section 3 of DOMA--the federal definition of "marriage" and "spouse"--"violates the equal protection rights of Plaintiff same-sex spouses" and that subparagraph (C) of Section 7702B(f) of the Internal Revenue Code "violates the equal protection rights of Plaintiff registered domestic partners."
Wilkens found that "both provisions are constitutionally invalid to the extent that they exclude Plaintiff same-sex spouses and registered domestic partners from enrollment in the CalPERS long-term care plan."
She ordered CalPERS not to use DOMA or the relevant tax provision to deny enrollment to same-sex spouses and registered domestic partners in the state. She also ordered that the federal government not disqualify CalPERS's plan from the beneficial tax treatment for following the court order. Finally, Wilken ruled that the decision would be stayed, or put on hold, during an appeal of her decision if one is sought.
As in other recent cases challenging DOMA, the Department of Justice declined to defend the consitutionality of Section 3. Instead, the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG)--controlled by the House Republican leadership--was granted permission to intervene in order to defend the statute.
The Department of Justice did, however, defend the tax code provision against a "substantive due process" challenge, arguing that "the denial of eligibility for tax benefits associated with CalPERS's long-term care insurance does not infringe on a fundamental right or a significant liberty interest."
More disturbingly, the Department of Justice also argued that "Section 7702B(f)'s non-inclusion of domestic partners as eligible relatives is not a classification based on sexual orientation or any other protected class. The term 'domestic partner' is not synonymous with a partner of the same sex because in the nine states that recognize domestic partnerships, only two limit it to same-sex couples."
Wilken rejected the arguments of both BLAG (on the constutionality of DOMA) and of the Department of Justice (on the domestic partner challenge). She ruled that denying married same-sex couples or same-sex domestic partners the ability to enroll in the long-term care plan violates the equal protection clause.
Wilken is the fourth federal judge to find DOMA unconstitutional. Other challenges to DOMA are in federal courts at both the Distric and appellate levels.
Judge Wilken's decision may be read here.
In the video below, witnesses at a Senate hearing testify as to the impact on DOMA on individuals.