E. Graff

E.J. Graff, the author of What Is Marriage For? The Strange Social History of Our Most Intimate Institution, is a visiting researcher at Brandeis University's Women's Studies Research Center and a contributing editor at the Prospect.

Recent Articles

Marriage License

The Dutch do it. The Belgians do it. Now the Canadians are doing it, too. When will Americans join the modern world and start legally recognizing same-sex marriages? This month, both Brussels and Ottawa threw open marriage's legal doors to same-sex couples. But it was Canada's newly gender-neutral marriage law that set American lesbian and gay couples' hearts beating faster. Canada has no residence requirement or waiting period for marriage licenses. As a result, whether from Seattle to Vancouver, Minneapolis to Winnipeg, Detroit to Windsor, Buffalo to Toronto or pretty much anywhere from New England to Montreal, American same-sex pairs can now take legal vows -- in English, no less -- with just a quick trip across the border. Feeling here is running so high that a number of American lesbian- and gay-rights organizations have distributed a joint advisory to listservs and newspapers explaining the legal implications of making the trip. American lesbian and gay couples are already...

A Few Good Men?

The Marines are about to be hit by the same kind of sexual-harassment scandal that rocked the Army, Navy and Air Force. As yet, no Marine has gone on record talking about rape. But someone will—and I bet it will be soon. Documents I recently obtained show that the same hostility found in the other services is deeply embedded in the Marines. Worse, this past February, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld purged the committee that reported on the corps' miserable climate, and stripped the committee's charter of key investigative powers. The Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, or DACOWITS, long targeted by the radical right, isn't exactly a feminist innovation; it was established by Secretary of Defense Gen. George Marshall in 1951 to give military women (those leftists!) a voice. According to two DACOWITS reports—delivered, with spectacularly unfortunate timing, on Sept. 10, 2001—women entering boot camp are told "that there are only three kinds of female Marines: '...

In the Bedroom

You're making love. Suddenly the police burst into your apartment, arrest you for engaging in "deviate sexual intercourse" and haul you off to jail in your underpants. Are you in: a) Afghanistan; b) Saudi Arabia; c) Cuba; or d) Texas? Yes, it's Texas. On Sept. 17, 1998, the Harris County sheriff's office got a complaint about a gunman in a Houston building. After being pointed to apartment 833, a cop pushed open the unlocked door, drew his gun -- and found two men in flagrante . Off to jail for the night went John Lawrence and Tyrone Garner, each paying a $125 fine for violating section 21.06 of the Texas criminal code (aka the "Homosexual Conduct Law"), which bans oral and anal sex between two men or two women. But the state of Texas did more than merely embarrass itself and mistreat two men: It gave the U.S. Supreme Court a chance to reverse its 1986 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick . By ruling that the Constitution authorized Georgia police to walk into Michael Hardwick's bedroom and...

Bring Me Women

At least Pfc. Jessica Lynch got her wounds on the battlefront. Back on the home front, Air Force Academy women have been taking friendly fire. Rape, it seems, is the price of graduation. To many civilians, that news from the Air Force Academy sounds like déjà vu all over again. Didn't the military -- the nation's largest employer of women -- get the message after Adm. Frank Kelso lost his career over the gang grope at the Navy's 1991 Tailhook convention? Or after the press revealed in 1996 that Army drill sergeants were regularly raping trainees at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds? Apparently not. According to press reports, from 1996- 2002 the Air Force Academy's hot line has logged 96 reports of sexual assault -- resulting in the expulsion (not prosecution, not jail time) of just eight men. Cardinal Law would be proud. One woman, after a senior cadet ordered her into his room and raped her, was punished for having sex in the dorms. Rape victims driven out by psych diagnoses have been...

Real Marriage, Real Life

Laughing at marriage, that age-old comedy staple, is trendy once again. The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Joe Millionaire and the "reality" genre's latest entry, Married by America : Watching what fools these mortals be is setting Nielsen records. And why not? Unlike the terrifyingly high-stakes disputes over Iraq, smallpox vaccinations, airport security and secret detentions, marriage has an easy-to-follow story line -- one we're all sure we understand better than the players do. But do these programs also reflect a new zeitgeist, a marrying mood? Are millions tuning in merely for distraction from the prospect of international thuggery? Or, given our scary times, are they ready to say goodbye to the commitment-free singles on Seinfeld , hoping to settle their own uncertain plotlines once and for all? If it's the latter, they'll be disappointed. Once upon a time, marriage could be life's answer. Because of capitalism, that can never be true again. What's capitalism got to do with it? If...

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