Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Archivists Make Great Community Partners for Social Justice

I just came across this article from the University of Manitoba about the new roles for Archivist in partnering with communities for social justice. In the article they refer to the role that archivists have played in the struggle for Aboriginal land claims and self-government.

"Contemporary archivists are becoming more aware of how their decisions shape societal knowledge. They are knowledgeable about the history and development of - as well as theoretical and practical implications for - archives and archiving. They may be as likely to use archiving and archival studies for for human rights causes and in the fight for social justice."

Also quoted in the article, Anne Lindsay says, "Archives are becoming more like partners; [for instance,] in increased dialogue with indigenous communities, building of community capacity rather than simply being a resource for specific questions."

CLGA and its Community Engagement Committee also try to be a partner to the the Queer community in the pursuit of social justice. It is so great to hear about the ways in which other archivist and archives are helping to further social justice in Canada.

Check out the full article.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Prop 8 overturned in landmark case

The CLGA and CE Committee would like to send a huge (and humbly belated) congratulations to our friends and allies in California!

On August 4, 2010, a federal judge overturned a ban on same-sex marriage in the state. Not only is this a victory for residents of the most populous state in the union, but it is also a landmark case that could eventually force the U.S. Supreme Court to confront the question of same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.

The ruling by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker establishes several legal 'facts'. As Marc Ambinder has explained in an Atlantic Weekly article, these facts can not be easily dismissed on appeal.

What queer and transgender people have known for aeons is now, evidently, legal knowledge that can be used to secure civil rights in future cases brought forth in other districts.

Judge Walker, who is now my queer ally of the year, has found that:

1. Marriage is and has been a civil matter, subject to religious intervention only when requested by the intervenors.

2. California, like every other state, doesn't require that couples wanting to marry be able to procreate.

3. Marriage as an institution has changed overtime; women were given equal status; interracial marriage was formally legalized; no-fault divorce made it easier to dissolve marriages.

4. California has eliminated marital obligations based on gender.

5. Same-sex love and intimacy "are well-documented in human history."

6. Sexual orientation is a fundamental characteristic of a human being.

7. Prop 8 proponents' "assertion that sexual orientation cannot be defined is contrary to the weight of the evidence."

8. There is no evidence that sexual orientation is chosen, nor than it can be changed.

9. California has no interest in reducing the number of gays and lesbians in its population.

10. "Same-sex couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics relevant to the ability to form successful marital union."

11. "Marrying a person of the opposite sex is an unrealistic option for gay and lesbian individuals."

12. "Domestic partnerships lack the social meaning associated with marriage, and marriage is widely regarded as the definitive expression of love and commitment in the United States.
The availability of domestic partnership does not provide gays and lesbians with a status equivalent to marriage because the cultural meaning of marriage and its associated benefits are intentionally withheld from same-sex couples in domestic partnerships."

13. "Permitting same-sex couples to marry will not affect the number of opposite-sex couples who marry, divorce, cohabit, have children outside of marriage or otherwise affect the
stability of opposite-sex marriages."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Watchin' the Detectives

Aiii! I just saw a really interesting episode of the PBS show History Detectives that features (among other things) an investigation into the identity of the author of Diana: A Strange Autobiography. If, like me, you had not heard of this title, the GLBTQ Encyclopedia describes it here. The book was published in 1939, and is notable for being one of the first to feature a politically aware queer subject who is happy (and still alive!) by the final page.

Diana is discussed in the third segment of the program, which begins around the 18:00 mark. There are some great archival photos of 1930s lesbians (though these remain sadly uncredited), in case the mystery of the author's identity wasn't enough to get you hooked.