Urvashi Vaid

Urvashi Vaid is the director of the Engaging Tradition Project at Columbia Law School’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. This article is adapted from her forthcoming book, Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Limits of LGBT Politics, which will be published in July by Magnus Books.

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Still Ain't Satisfied: The Limits of Equality

The LGBT-rights movement should fight for economic and social justice—not simply de jure civil rights.

(Flickr/Jason Pier)
A n acquaintance baited me with a question at a dinner party not long ago. “So, is the movement over?” she asked loudly. I was surprised by her contemptuous tone. But because I didn’t want to embarrass my hostesses, I demurred: “Gosh, what do you mean over? Not in my mind.” “You know, now that we have won marriage,” she said. “It’s over, done, right?” We were dining in Massachusetts, so she was marginally correct about marriage. The question was being asked by a lesbian who had impeccable civil-rights credentials; while not an active participant in the LGBT movement, she had long been an ally. She had grown skeptical of the movement’s commitment to anything but a narrow version of equal rights. It was a revealing moment. Several months later, I found myself listening, and protesting politely, as a major gay power broker told me that when his state legalized marriage equality, that state’s gay-rights agenda would be done. In places where marriage equality has already been achieved and...