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Notes on Same-Sex Marriage Concerns for Feminist Social Workers
Affilia (2015)
  • Joseph Nicholas DeFilippis, Portland State University
  • Ben Anderson-Nathe, Portland State University
  • Meg Panichelli, Portland State University
Using a critical feminist and social work lens, this article argues that the mainstream gay rights movement and its singular focus on marriage has consistently neglected the most marginal among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities and has instead focused on advancing the interests of elite and advantaged lesbian and gay people. We link professional obligations and values outlined in the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics to feminist and queer (both activist and scholarly) critiques of the gay marriage movement in three main ways. First, we explore the priorities of LGBT communities and draw on data that suggest there are more pressing needs than marriage equality for LGBT communities of color, who are poor, transgender, hold precarious citizenship, or are without citizenship. We then trouble that issue of marriage being upheld as the LGBT priority, as this diverts resources from these more pressing needs. Second, we look at marriage in Capitalist America and how marriage is used as a form of privatization and a tool of neoliberalism. Finally, we discuss the diversity of queer families and how they really live, while highlighting that the marriage movement stigmatizes and dismantles protections for nonhegemonic family structures. In moving forward, we argue that social workers must engage more critically with the many intersectional issues related to the gay marriage movement than it has in the past and employ feminist social work values and principles when working with LGBT communities.
  • Feminist social work,
  • Same-sex marriage
Publication Date
November, 2015
Citation Information
DeFilippis, J., Anderson-Nathe, B., & Panichelli, M. (2015). Notes on same-sex marriage: Concerns for feminist social workers. Affilia.