Feminist literary theory is a complex, dynamic area of study that draws from a wide range of critical theories.
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.
Conflicted over his own sexuality, Tennessee Williams wrote directly about homosexuality only in his short stories, his poetry, and his late plays.
A theory of art and an approach to living that influenced many European and American gay male and lesbian writers at the turn of the twentieth century, aestheticism stressed the independence of art from all moral and social conditions and judgments.
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.
Erotic and pornographic works have been written in many cultures since ancient times and recently have flourished with the relaxation of censorship.
The Harlem Renaissance, an African-American literary movement of the 1920s and 1930s, included several important gay and lesbian writers.
Combining elements of incongruity, theatricality, and exaggeration, camp is a form of humor that helps homosexuals cope with a hostile environment.
Attorney Mary Bonauto at a press conference following the court's decision.
On May 31, 2012, a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit declared Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional in the combined cases Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. United States. The decision, authored by Judge Michael Boudin, who was appointed to the bench by President George H. W. Bush, marks the first time DOMA has been declared unconstitutional by a federal appellate court. Chief Judge Sandra Lynch, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, and Judge Juan Torruella, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, joined in Boudin's decision.
The ruling, like the cases themselves, dealt narrowly with the question of federal recognition of same-sex marriage in states where such marriages are legal and with benefits for same-sex couples, not with the legality of same-sex marriage itself. Those benefits range from the right to file joint tax returns to the ability to collect social security survivor benefits.
The decision upholds the opinion of U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro, issued on July 8, 2010, that the federal law defining marriage as consisting of only one man and one woman violates the equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment. The Court rejected Judge Tauro's holding that DOMA violated the Tenth Amendment, but it evoked the principles of federalism in reaching its decision.
The Court declined to apply "heightened scrutiny" in testing the legislation, but it relied on recent decisions, such as Romer v. Evans, that acknowledged "the historic patterns of disadvantage suffered by the group adversely affected." In those decisions, the Supreme Court, Boudin wrote, "did not adopt some new category of suspect classification or employ rational basis review in its minimalist form; instead, the Court rested on the case-specific nature of the discrepant treatment, the burden imposed, and the infirmities of the justifications offered."
Applying this standard, which is sometimes described as "rational basis with teeth," the Court concluded: "[M]any Americans believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and most Americans live in states where that is the law today. One virtue of federalism is that it permits this diversity of governance based on local choice, but this applies as well to the states that have chosen to legalize same-sex marriage. Under current Supreme Court authority, Congress' denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples lawfully married in Massachusetts has not been adequately supported by any permissible federal interest."
The decision paid far greater credence than deserved to the argument that Congress was not motivated by hostility to homosexuals when it passed DOMA. It did, however, find that "Several of the reasons given [to justify the rational basis of the legislation] do not match the statute and several others are diminished by specific holdings in Supreme Court decisions more or less directly on point. If we are right in thinking that disparate impact on minority interests and federalism concerns both require somewhat more in this case than almost automatic deference to Congress' will, this statute fails that test."
Acknowledging that "Supreme Court review of DOMA is highly likely," the Court stayed the implementation of its decision pending a likely appeal.
Since the First Circuit is a small circuit, with only five active judges, it is unlikely that an en banc review would be granted. More likely, the defendants will move directly to request that the U.S. Supreme Court hear the case.
Because the Department of Justice, which had defended DOMA at the District Court level in 2010, stopped defending Section 3 of DOMA in February 2011, the Republican-dominated House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) intervened to defend the law. Representing BLAG, conservative attorney Paul Clement was the sole lawyer defending DOMA in Boston at the oral arguments held on April 4, 2012.
Mary Bonauto of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) represented the plaintiffs in Gill and Massachusetts Attorney General's Office Civil Rights section chief Maura Healey represented the state of Massachusetts. They were joined in some arguments by DOJ Civil Division Chief Stuart Delery.
In a conference call to reporters, Bonauto described the decision as "crisp, solid and well-reasoned," adding that it was "rooted in the last 50 years of equal protection jurisprudence."
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley issued a statement in which she said that "Today's landmark ruling makes clear once again that DOMA is a discriminatory law for which there is no justification."
A second DOMA challenge, Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management, is on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On May 24, a federal district court in California struck down DOMA in Dragovich v. Department of Treasury, the details of which may be found here. Other challenges are pending in various federal district courts from New York to California.
The decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit may be read here.
In the video below, from a press conference held after a hearing in the Gill case in 2010, Mary Bonauto discusses the case.