LGBT Legal Column: Reader Survey Results

Which of the following LGBT legal issues would you most like to read about?

More than 75 % of respondents chose same-sex marriage, politics, the Defense of Marriage Act, and LGBT legal developments not in the news. Same-sex marriage and DOMA are the most significant civil rights issues facing our community at this moment, so it makes sense that these issues are on everybody's minds. I will continue to address these legal issues, in addition to politics, legislation, and elections affecting the LGBT community. I am also adding ENDA to this list.

That is not to say that the other topics are not important. This year looks to be even more of a whirlwind than 2011, so as issues come up, I will do my best to analyze them for you.

Notably, there were quite a few comments about my decision to use the phrase "same-sex marriage" instead of just "marriage" or "marriage equality." That issue is more fascinating that most people realize, so expect a future column about the words we use in our fights for civil rights.

What kind of legal posts would you like to see?

This question asked about format rather than substance, and about two-thirds of respondents preferred the current format of written legal analyses of ongoing issues and cases. I will continue to make this the bread-and-butter of Towleroad's legal column. That said, I have been trying to find opportunities for video blogs for interviews or debates with leading LGBT lawyers. It is important for the community to know the advocates leading the charge, so since 31 % percent of you were interested in these interviews/debates, I will do my best to make them engaging through various formats, whether video or written. Look forward to interviews with legal iconoclasts fighting the good fight.


Ari Ezra Waldman is a 2002 graduate of Harvard College and a 2005 graduate of Harvard Law School. After practicing in New York for five years and clerking at a federal appellate court in Washington, D.C., Ari is now on the faculty at California Western School of Law in San Diego, California. His research focuses on gay rights and the First Amendment. Ari will be writing weekly posts on law and various LGBT issues.

Follow Ari on Twitter at @ariezrawaldman.


  1. K in VA says

    I did your survey, and had a very hard time picking and choosing among the various items. In our real world, what might seem like a small advance over here can have big benefits over there.

    For example, ending DADT is great for those who are or want to serve in the military — but it also creates opportunities to explain to our fellow Americans that DOMA prevents pay and housing and healthcare treatment for married/partnered gays and lesbians in uniform. So, ultimately, the end to DADT is also a story about law generally, and about workplace equality, and also about marriage equality, and influences what happens to gays and lesbians elsewhere in the world who see America as an example.

    In other words, nothing happens in isolation, and I don’t envy you the difficult task of trying to pick and choose what to cover. We’re living in eventful times, and ultimately it’s all important.

    Anyhow, if you keep up the great job you’ve been doing, you’ll be in good stead for 2012. Thanks!

  2. says

    Hi Ari,

    Thank you for your solid efforts. I look forward to reading more in the future. I agree that the term same-sex-marriage is not a good choice. I have always said the problem with the haters, is they can’t take the sex out of homosexual. We do not need to encourage the use of the word sex to identify ourselves. Same-gender-marriage puts a whole different light on the matter, and I think is a more appropriate way to express our lives and personalities.

    Just my two cents.

  3. One of the CA 36,000 says

    I did not get a chance to take the survey, but I would have certainly noted the omission of “equality in employment” or “passage of ENDA” as an important legal fight for our community.

    Of course, marriage equality (MY preferred name for what we’re trying to achieve) is my top pick, being legally married myself.

    But really, we need to start framing our fight as one for “full equality as US citizens, as promised to us in the US Constitution”. Nothing less than full equality will do– in employment, in our personal relationships, in our parental rights and responsibilities, everything.

    And, of course, we need to tell the fundamentalists and the bigots and the haters that they have no place in modern society. They need to be defeated soundly and banished to history as fear-driven losers.

  4. Matthew says

    One thing that is really bugging me is that the IRS is requiring if you are in a domestic partnership and live in a community property state that you have to jointly include each partners income on your return (1/2 his, 1/2 his) but don’t get to combine the payments/refunds from the two returns. Some not quite joint returns, thus in my case, I get a refund but my partner has to pay a huge amount and we can’t balance them out. Seems grossly unfair. Seems like semi recognition from IRS on their terms only.

  5. Mary in Iowa says

    Sorry, I didn’t take the survey – I did’t go to the caucuses either since I will be voting for Obama and am glad the candiate plague is gone. DOMA is on top of list. I try to steer the conversation toward “marriage” as I think terms like ‘SSM’ draws away from equality.

  6. says

    Nice to see that the top four topics I am most interested in came to be the same top four topis most others are concerned with too. Same-sex marriage is high on my list as is the repeal of DOMA. Thanks.

  7. RobR919 says

    I am extremely concerned that there is little-to-no discussion about job discrimination or ENDA for matter. In over 2/3rd of the states it is still perfectly legal for a boss to fire someone just for being gay! Let’s not forget that.
    The LGBT movement has gotten so hung up on marriage this, marriage that. Sorry, not everyone wants to get married. But everyone needs a job! And in this economy, that’s not something to neglect. I really wish the LGBT movement would get back to basics and remember this!

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