The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Badgett's study helps unite civil rights with gay rights

Lee Badgett

Poverty in the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community, a study co-authored by M.V. Lee Badgett, Director of CPPA, and economics graduate student Alyssa Schneebaum in March 2009, was cited in a Newsweek article on whether or not gay rights are civil rights. The article, titled "Are Gay Rights 'Civil Rights'?" addresses the similarities between Rosa Parks's stand against the injustices of "separate but not equal" in the mid-fifties and the more recent violation of gay rights, such as the fights over same-sex marriage and the "don't ask, don't tell" policies employed in the military. However, some members of the black community argue that there should be no relation between the civil rights and gay rights movements. On the other hand, there are many who believe otherwise: "'To those that believe in and fought for civil rights, that marched to end discrimination and win equality, you must not become that which you hated,' [Rev. Jesse Jackson] said" in a call to African-Americans to support gay marriage during the California appeals. Absorbing the lessons of the civil rights movement and seeking their own political freedoms, the Tennessee-based civil-disobedience group GetEQUAL continues to fight for gay rights.

“Yes, it’s not life or death every day like the civil-rights movement was,” says Michelle Wright, who is African-American and became involved in GetEQUAL after coming out last year. “But it’s still discrimination, and therefore it’s wrong.”

For the full article, visit Badgett is also a Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, as well as research director of the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA’s School of Law. She has authored When Gay People Get Married: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-Sex Marriage, Money, Myths, and Change: The Economic Lives of Lesbians and Gay Men, and co-edited Sexual Orientation Discrimination: An International Perspective, among others. Badgett recently directed a successful four-year project funded by the Ford Foundation to encourage more and better data collection on sexual orientation.

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