Black On Campus
Higher Education and the African American Experience

The Quotable Black Scholar: Melissa Harris-Lacewell on Gay Marriage

October 27th, 2009 by Ajuan Mance


Dr. Melissa Harris-Lacewell


Typically advocates of marriage equality try to reassure the voting public the same-sex marriage will not change the institution itself. “Don’t worry,” we say, “allowing gay men and lesbians to marry will not threaten the established norms; it will simply assimilate new groups into old practices.”

This is a pragmatic, political strategy, but I hope it is not true. I hope same-sex marriage changes marriage itself. I hope it changes marriage the way that no-fault divorce changed it. I hope it changes marriage the way that allowing women to own their own property and seek their own credit changed marriage. I hope it changes marriage the way laws against spousal abuse and child neglect changed marriage. I hope marriage equality results more equal marriages. I also hope it offers more opportunities for building meaningful adult lives outside of marriage.

— Melissa Harris-Lacewell in “Rethinking Marriage. The World Has Changed. It’s Time!,” from The Nation, posted on


Biographical Notes: Melissa Harris-Lacewell is Associate Professor of Politics and African American Studies at Princeton University.


Posted by Ajuan Mance

Posted in Academia, African Americans, Black Faculty, Black Professors, Black Scholars, Current Events

One Response

  1. BlackWomenBlowTheTrumpet

    Hi there!

    Thanks for these wonderful comments by Dr. Lacewell-Harris!

    As a minister, I would not marry lesbians or gays. All of my gay and lesbian friends know this…and frankly…none of them care. They know that it doesn’t matter whether or not gays or lesbians have a church ceremony…church ceremonies do not “legitimize” marriages.

    I have read many online discussions about gay marriage and it seems that the prevalent assumption is that ministers who would NOT marry gays or lesbians are part of the anti-marriage legislation.

    Legalities for American citizens and scriptural interpretation are NOT the same discussion!

    I would not marry heterosexuals either! It depends on the direction that I receive from God about which unions HE HAS ordained. I don’t assume that all heterosexual unions are “ordained” by God.

    I could say more but I thanks for letting me blow my trumpet!

    Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!