Rights and Resistance: Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of (Legal) Same-Sex Marriage in San Francisco

A poster in the style of a wedding invitation with flowers, rings, the LGBT and trans flags, the event sponsor logos, and the same text that is on this page

Rights and Resistance: Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of (Legal) Same-Sex Marriage in San Francisco

Thursday, February 15, 4-5:30 pm Pacific Time

Zoom (register here; free!)

Sponsor: Center for Research on Social Change

Co-sponsors: Othering and Belonging Institute, Center for the Study of Law and Society, Department of Gender and Women's Studies 

On February 12, 2004, San Francisco began issuing marriage licenses for all couples. Within a month, about 4,000 marriage licenses were issued to same sex couples, but then the Supreme Court of California put a stop to the practice. Many credit this period as being instrumental in leading to same-sex marriage becoming legal throughout the United States in 2015. This event celebrates the legal right of all couples to marry and also interrogates the limits of the focus on same-sex marriage as the keystone issue of the LGBTQIA+ rights movement. This 20th anniversary, occurring during a time of right-wing backlash and violence against LGBTQIA+ people, provides an impetus for bringing in race, class, and gender-expansive lenses to consider questions such as why state benefits flow through the institution of marriage?; does the institution of marriage make sense for marginalized people?; what does marriage provide and what does it foreclose particularly as we think of the future of radical organizing and movements?

Moderated by: Ari Shapiro, anchor of All Things Considered on National Public Radio


Speaker Bios

Karma R. Chávez

Karma ChávezKarma R. Chávez is Chair and Bobby and Sherri Patton Professor in the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at the University of Texas - Austin. She is co-editor of Keywords for Gender and Sexuality Studies (New York University Press, 2021); Queer and Trans Migrations: Dynamics of Illegalization, Detention, and Deportation (University of Illinois Press, 2020); Text + Field: Innovations in Rhetorical Method (Penn State Press, 2016) and Standing in the Intersection: Feminist Voices, Feminist Practices in Communication Studies (SUNY Press, 2012); and author of Queer Migration Politics: Activist Rhetoric and Coalitional Possibilities (University of Illinois Press, 2013); Palestine on the Air (University of Illinois Press, 2019); and The Borders of AIDS: Race, Quarantine, and Resistance (University of Washington Press, 2021). Working with colleagues across UT’s College of Liberal Arts, Chávez created the GRIDS (Gender, Race, Indigeneity, Disability, and Sexuality Studies) Initiative, designed to foster relationships among those who study these and other systems of power and support related local and university efforts. Chávez helped to create the new Michigan State University Press journal, Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture and edits the Intersectional Rhetorics series at the Ohio State University Press. She is a member of Against Equality.

Kenyon Farrow

Kenyon FarrowKenyon Farrow is a journalist, media strategist and organizer who works at the intersections of racial, gender and economic justice. Kenyon spent many years writing, organizing and speaking about same-sex marriage and the equality movement, particularly analyzing the racial dynamics of the calls for marriage equality. In addition to his political work, Kenyon is a prolific essayist and author. He is the co-editor of the book Letters From Young Activists: Today’s Rebels Speak Out, and his work has also appeared in many media outlets and anthologies. One of his essays on same-sex marriage is: Eight Years After Same-Sex Marriage Became Law, We’re Worse Off. Another, his 2004 essay Is Gay Marriage Anti-Black?, was widely circulated, taught in university classes and is now in several anthologies. He was also an original writer and signer of the Beyond Marriage statement—calling for a new way to think about policies to protect chosen families including but beyond romantic relationships. He is the communications director for AVAC, an organization dedicated to global equity in biomedical prevention access, including PrEP. He is the President of the LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland and serves on the board of New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG), Global Black Gay Men Connect, and Partners for Dignity & Rights.

Sasha Issenberg

Sasha IssenbergSasha Issenberg is the author of The Engagement: America’s Quarter-Century Struggle over Same-Sex Marriage, which traces same-sex marriage’s unexpected path from the unimaginable to the inevitable, from legal battles in Hawaii in 1990 to the epic face-off over California’s Proposition 8 and, finally, to the landmark Supreme Court decisions of United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges. He is also the author of three previous books on topics ranging from the global sushi business to medical tourism and the science of political campaigns, and he has a book coming out soon on Democratic politics in the Trump era. He covered the 2008 election as a national political reporter in the Washington bureau of The Boston Globe, the 2012 election for Slate, the 2016 election for Bloomberg Politics and Businessweek, and 2020 for The Recount. He is the Washington correspondent for Monocle, and has also written for New York magazine, The New York Times Magazine, and George, where he served as a contributing editor. He teaches in the political science department at UCLA.

Priya Kandaswamy

Priya KandaswamyPriya Kandaswamy is Associate Professor of Women's Studies at San Diego State University. Her research and teaching explore how race, gender, sexuality, and class have shaped ideas of national belonging and practices of state violence in the United States. She is the author of Domestic Contradictions: Race and Gendered Citizenship from Reconstruction to Welfare Reform (Duke University Press, 2021), which documents how constructions of gendered citizenship articulated to curtail Black freedom during the Reconstruction Era continue to haunt more contemporary debates about public assistance and economic inequality in the United States. She is also the author of “State Austerity and the Racial Politics of Gay Marriage” published in Sexualities and a contributor to “Is Gay Marriage Racist?,” which appeared in That’s Revolting: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation (Soft Skull, 2005). Bringing together insights from queer studies, feminist studies, and ethnic studies, her work is engaged with and deeply indebted to historical and contemporary movements for welfare rights, domestic workers’ rights, reproductive justice, prison abolition, and liberatory education.

Sophie Lewis

Sophie LewisSophie Lewis is a writer and freelance independent scholar living in Philadelphia. She is currently at work on a book manuscript entitled Enemy Feminisms, forthcoming with Haymarket in February 2025. Her first two books, both published by Verso Books, are Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family (2019) and Abolish the Family: A Manifesto for Care and Liberation (2022). Sophie’s essays and articles appear in academic journals like Feminist Theory as well as literary ones like n+1, Harper’s, and the London Review of Books. Sophie has a PhD in Geography at Manchester University, as well as an MA Politics from the New School, and a BA in English literature from Oxford University, which was followed by an MSc in Environmental Policy (also at Oxford). Dr. Lewis teaches short courses on social and critical theory at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, open to all and online. She also has a visiting affiliation with the Center for Research on Feminist, Queer and Transgender Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. You can find her lectures and writings at lasophielle.org and become a subscriber at patreon.com/reproutopia.

Molly McKay Williams

Molly McKay WilliamsMolly McKay Williams is an attorney licensed in three states and a civil rights activist for the LGBT community. She married her longtime partner Davina Kotulski on February 12, 2004. They had arrived at SF City Hall with a handful of fellow marriage equality activist couples expecting to engage in the annual Freedom to Marry day protest where couples stand up for their relationships by getting turned away from the marriage counter. To their joy and amazement, Mayor Gavin Newsom made history by directing his staff to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples which generated world-wide attention and over 4,000 couples married in one week referred to as the Winter of Love. Molly served as the Field Director for Equality California and the Media Director for Marriage Equality USA and 20 years later continues to be involved in efforts globally to secure marriage equality in other countries.

Ari Shapiro

Ari ShapiroAri Shapiro is an award-winning anchor of National Public Radio's All Things Considered, one of the most listened-to radio news programs in the United States, as well as a host of NPR’s daily afternoon news podcast, Consider This. His debut memoir, The Best Strangers in the World: Stories from a Life Spent Listening, was an instant New York Times bestseller. As a singer with Pink Martini, he has performed in some of the world’s most storied venues, from Carnegie Hall to the Hollywood Bowl. Ari has reported from above the Arctic Circle and aboard Air Force One. He has covered wars in Iraq, Ukraine, and Israel, and he has filed stories from five continents and most of the 50 states. Among his many awards, he was named “Journalist of the Year” in 2023 by NLGJA, the association of LGBTQ+ journalists. He lives in Washington, DC, with his husband; they married in San Francisco in 2004.

This event is free and open to the public. If you require an accommodation for effective communication (ASL interpreting/CART captioning, alternative media formats, etc.) in order to fully participate in this virtual event, please contact crsc@berkeley.edu or 510 642-0813 with as much advance notice as possible and at least 7-10 days in advance of the event. California Relay Service 711