The Lesbian and Gay Movements

Assimilation or Liberation?

Craig A. Rimmerman

Second Edition • August 5, 2014 • 234 pages

Print ISBN: 9780813348490 • $32.00 USD$41.50 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780813348506 • $22.99 USD$22.99 CAN

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Throughout their relatively short history, lesbian and gay movements in the United States have endured searing conflicts over whether to embrace assimilationist or liberationist strategies. The Lesbian and Gay Movements explores this dilemma in both contemporary and historical contexts. Rimmerman tackles the challenging issue of what constitutes movement “effectiveness” and how “effective” the assimilationist and liberationist strategies have been in three contentious policy arenas: the military ban, same-sex marriage, and AIDS.

Since the first edition in 2007, the landscape of lesbian and gay movements and rights has seen enormous changes. The thoroughly revised second edition includes updated discussion of LGBT movements’ undertakings in, as well the Obama administration’s response to, HIV/AIDS policy, the fight to legalize same-sex marriage and overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Craig A. Rimmerman is professor of public policy and political science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He is the editor of Westview Press’s Dilemmas in American Politics series. He is also author of The New Citizenship, From Identity to Politics, and co-editor of The Politics of Gay Rights (with Kenneth A. Wald and Clyde Wilcox).

List of Illustrations

1 Introduction to the Core Dilemma

2 The Assimilationist and Liberationist Strategies in Historical Context
The Birth of the Homophile Movement and the Foundations for Contemporary Politics
The Stonewall Rebellion and Beyond
The 1970s and the Challenge of the Christian Right

3 The Conflict Over HIV/AIDS Policy
The Early History of AIDS in the United States
AIDS Policy in The Reagan/Bush Years
Response of the Lesbian and Gay Movements to the Reagan/Bush Years
AIDS Policy in the Clinton/Bush/Obama Years
Response of the Lesbian and Gay Movements to the Clinton/Bush/Obama Years

4 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: Policy Perspectives on the Military Ban
Military Integration in Historical Context,
The Early Days of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: Debates and Policy
Implementation of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy
The Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
The Case for the Military Ban
The Case Against the Military Ban

5 Jilted at the Altar: The Debate Over Same-Sex Marriage
Same-Sex Marriage in Historical Context
The Implications of the Marriage Debate for the Lesbian and Gay Movements
The Case for Same-Sex Marriage
The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage

6 The Movements’ Futures
The Assimilationist and Liberationist Strategies Revisited
Coalition Politics
Barriers to Building Coalitions

Appendix 1: AIDS Timeline
Appendix 2: The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Law
Appendix 3: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Christian Right Organizations
Discussion Questions

“How did private decisions on sexuality become such a controversial political issue in American politics? Craig Rimmerman’s book provides a concise introduction to the development of the gay rights movement and to the related issues of HIV/AIDS policy, gays serving in the military, and same-sex marriage. Avoiding a simplification of these issues, Rimmerman provides an explanation that includes the historical development of the issues, a recap of the varying political positions, and an analysis of the political and legal processes that led to today’s policies.”
Barbara Norrander, University of Arizona

“Rimmerman’s presentation of the evidence…provides a compelling case in support of the notion that the lesbian and gay movements are best served by intermixing liberationist and assimilationist strategies. The lessons can be applied beyond the gay and lesbian movement as well, and are especially pertinent to other movements with an identity politics emphasis.”
Political Science Quarterly

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