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My research on marriage and family life seldom leads me to agree with Dr. Dobson, much less to accuse him of understatement. But in this case, Dr. Dobson's warnings come 30 years too late.

Civil partnerships: Law to change for mixed-sex couples - BBC News

Traditional marriage, with its 5,year history, has already been upended. Gays and lesbians, however, didn't spearhead that revolution: heterosexuals did.


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Heterosexuals were the upstarts who turned marriage into a voluntary love relationship rather than a mandatory economic and political institution. Heterosexuals were the ones who made procreation voluntary, so that some couples could choose childlessness, and who adopted assisted reproduction so that even couples who could not conceive could become parents. And heterosexuals subverted the long-standing rule that every marriage had to have a husband who played one role in the family and a wife who played a completely different one.

Gays and lesbians simply looked at the revolution heterosexuals had wrought and noticed that with its new norms, marriage could work for them, too. The first step down the road to gay and lesbian marriage took place years ago, when Enlightenment thinkers raised the radical idea that parents and the state should not dictate who married whom, and when the American Revolution encouraged people to engage in "the pursuit of happiness," including marrying for love.

Almost immediately, some thinkers, including Jeremy Bentham and the Marquis de Condorcet, began to argue that same-sex love should not be a crime. Same-sex marriage, however, remained unimaginable because marriage had two traditional functions that were inapplicable to gays and lesbians.

The heterosexual couples campaigning for civil partnership equality

First, marriage allowed families to increase their household labor force by having children. The message of LYE immediately provoked a strong and often negative reaction. While some radical feminists agreed with the group's arguments, many went wild at being told they were "counter-revolutionaries", undermining the fight for women's liberation by sleeping with men. The main author of LYE, Sheila Jeffreys, says that the backlash to the booklet "even among lesbians, was quite shocking.

Quite a few were angry with the group for writing it. They felt it exposed them to hostility from outraged heterosexual feminists. It's no surprise that the booklet was so controversial. She says that while the booklet's insistence that lesbianism could be a choice was controversial, debate was equally heated around the suggestion that men were the enemy. Alison Garthwaite was another of the authors, and she stands by the original argument. I don't think that. The publication of LYE was the one of the first times that the notion of sexuality as a choice had been publicly raised in the UK women's movement.

Many feminists considered sexuality purely a matter of personal desire, and the idea that lesbianism could be a political decision was perceived as "cold-blooded". The feminist writer Bea Campbell was one of LYE's many detractors, arguing that it was far more important to challenge men's behaviour in heterosexual relationships than to insist that women abandon hope altogether. It was founded, therefore, not on love of women but fear of men.

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For all those who bridled at its message though, there were women who took the arguments in LYE to heart. The booklet described lesbianism in glowing terms, which was quite something back in the 70s - after all, out women still face prejudice and exclusion just yesterday, the Sun used the pejorative "lesbo" in a headline about Iceland's interim PM. Some women threw out boyfriends and husbands after taking note of claims such as this: "Being a heterosexual feminist is like being in the resistance in Nazi-occupied Europe where in the daytime you blow up a bridge, in the evening you rush to repair it.

Others, such as myself, found that the arguments in LYE spoke directly to feelings that had already been developing. Opponents of political lesbianism argue that "genuine" lesbians are motivated purely by lust towards women, rather than a decision to reject men and heterosexuality.

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The Heterosexual Agenda

Institutions such as Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal believe that compulsory heterosexuality is upheld by individuals and organizations, not society-wide beliefs. Therefore, as lesbian and gay visibility increase, compulsory heterosexuality decreases.


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  • As individual freedoms for sexual minorities increase, the institution of heterosexuality disappears. Rich believes that a woman is able to overcome compulsory heterosexuality by separating herself from men and entering a lesbian relationship to determine if heterosexuality is right for her.

    She argued that all women can be lesbians, regardless of sexual orientation, by identifying as a "woman-identified woman," meaning that the woman's focuses are on the needs and emotions of other women. Compulsory heterosexuality is also seen as a precursor to the development of the theory of heteronormativity , with the difference being that compulsory heterosexuality emphasizes the regulation of sexual expression in individuals.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Main article: Lesbian erasure.


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    • Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence. The University of Chicago Press. Journal of Sex Research. Journal of Social Issues. The Origin of the Family. New Hogtown Press. Journal of NSRC. The Woman-Identified Woman. Know, INC. New York: McGraw-Hill. American Medical Association.

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      Retrieved December 8, Que e rying Religion: A Critical Anthology. New York: Continuum, Educational Policy. London, GB: Reaktion Books, ProQuest ebrary. Female Sexual Slavery. NYU Press.

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