E.J. Graff

E.J. Graff writes on social-justice and human-rights issues, particularly discrimination and violence against women and children; marriage and family policy; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender lives. She is a resident scholar at the Brandeis Women's Studies Research Center and the author of What Is Marriage For? The Strange Social History of Our Most Intimate Institution (Beacon Press, 1999, 2004).

Recent Articles

Marry Me

Yesterday, The Washington Post published a nice summary of the various federal lawsuits underway in the court battles over same-sex marriage, a piece occasioned by a panel at the College of William and Mary Law School's Institute of Bill of Rights Law. The panel, according to reporter Robert Barnes, was debating whether the government's political or judicial branch should decide whether same-sex couples' bonds should be recognized as "marriage" by federal law. Given that LGBT folks now -- after years of organizing effort and personal travail -- have some (some!) political traction, shouldn't we be deciding the question in legislatures, not courts? Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, the well-regarded conservative on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, called the question "wrenchingly hard." He noted the contributions of gay Americans and said it was striking that the movement's aims in the courts is to "partake in the most traditional" of American rights: to serve in the...

Can Tammy Baldwin Win?

Over at TheAtlantic.com, I look into the question of whether openly lesbian Tammy Baldwin can become Wisconsin's senator. Pop quiz: What's the " L-word" that's likely to hurt her most? Hint: It's not this one . Here's an excerpt: In 1998, Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay candidate to be elected to the U.S. Congress as a non-incumbent, winning a seat representing liberal Madison, Wisc., in the House of Representatives. Now the leading candidate to become the Democratic nominee to replace retiring Senator Herb Kohl, Baldwin would become the first out U.S. Senator in American history if she wins election in November 2012. And in a kind triumph for the gay rights movement, it turns out "lesbian" isn't the L-word most likely to be used against her in a race defeat either likely Republican opponent, whether Mark Neumann or Tommy Thompson. In Wisconsin, the fighting L-word these days is "liberal" -- and, observers say, that's the territory on which her race will be won or lost. .....

More on The Playboy Club

Here's a follow-up to my mini-review last week of NBC's The Playboy Club : a Daily Beast article, "My Mom's Life as a Playboy Bunny," by Susanna Spier. Spier interviews her mother about what things were really like. Was Hugh Hefner's comment -- that bunnies could be anything they wanted to be -- accurate? Ha. We had only a handful of options, and being a Bunny was a brand-new one. ... Teacher, nurse, stewardess, secretary. Bunny increased our options by 20 percent. It didn't mean we could be brain surgeons. Hef's dots do not connect. So why did she do it? Duh: for the money.

A pre-2004 Red Sox Nightmare

I've only been here in Boston for, oh, a couple of decades. While I enjoyed the region's collective delirium when the Red Sox finally reversed the curse, I'm an October fan, not a real one. But my wife is a real fan, dating back pre-natally. She lives and dies with each Sox at bat. She would snarl and growl if a Yankees fan came anywhere near our house. As you can imagine, right now, there is no joy in our corner of Mudville. Last week, our 8-year-old startled us with this phrase: "It's a pre-2004 Red Sox nightmare!," which would have been, oh, before he was born. But of course, he's right.

In Praise of Hash

Last year in a New Yorker blog item, Susan Orleans explored some of the joys of the #hashtag, that funny and versatile little Twitter symbol, which can help you track public discussion of a subject—or make fun of yourself and others. Over the weekend, I was at the Online News Association’s annual conference, #ONA11, where some discussed the philosophical gap between what the old guard believes to be objective and proper journalistic behavior (just the facts, ma’am) and what the newer journos believe to be permissible room for attitude -- attitude that can help build audience. I must be immature for my age, because my heart is with the latter. I nodded (and tweeted) as one panelist said that he wouldn’t be able to survive his job “if I couldn’t snark all day on Twitter.” Why yes, that’s a good thing. Yesterday Ben Zimmer told us in a wonderful little piece in yesterday’s Boston Globe that the Twitter #hashtag has resurrected irony, self-deprecation, and verbal playfulness in public...