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From the AHA Activities column of the April 2009 issue of Perspectives on History

Working Group for Historical Perspectives on Same-Sex Marriage Established for San Diego Annual Meeting

Karen Halttunen, April 2009

To implement a resolution (see below) passed at the 2009 annual meeting, the AHA Council has formed a working group to create a threaded miniconference that will explore historical perspectives on same-sex marriage at the 2010 meeting in San Diego. The working group includes Kristin Hoganson (Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) representing the 2010 Program Committee, Leisa Meyer (Coll. of William and Mary) as co-chair of the AHA’s LGBTQ Task Force, and James Green (Brown Univ.), as well as the AHA vice presidents—Karen Halttunen of the Teaching Division, David Weber of the Professional Division, and Iris Berger of the Research Division. As charged by the Council and AHA President Laurel Ulrich, the group is working to generate special panels and sessions, minimally one for each of the eight major time slots at the convention. We also intend to generate programming on our theme for breakfast and lunch slots, and at least one evening plenary session.

Our goal is to include histories of marriage and sexuality that range across historical time, geographic space, and thematic focus. Panels currently under consideration for this special program address such topics as late medieval marriage law and practice, the imperial politics of marriage in colonial India and colonial America, miscegenation law in the United States, male domestic partnerships in turn-of-the-century Europe and America, marriage and modernity in 20th-century Brazil, the historical relationship between the issues of gays in the military and same-sex marriage, teaching the history of sexuality, historians’ participation in amicus briefs concerning same-sex marriage, and historical reflections on California’s Proposition 8.

The passage of Proposition 8 in California in November 2008 coincides with a significant expansion of historical scholarship on the subjects of marriage, sexuality, and the social constructions of domestic union. In San Diego in January 2010, we will be featuring some of this cutting-edge scholarship that is illuminating our understanding of these complex and historically contingent institutions and practices. We will arrange press coverage and invite public participation from San Diego and the surrounding communities to publicize the AHA’s position on equity and equal rights.

The working group’s programming ideas are still in development, and we welcome your thoughts and suggestions for additional topics and panels. Please e-mail your ideas by May 1, 2009, to Noralee Frankel, AHA’s assistant director for women, minorities, and teaching, who serves as the staff member of the working group. Her e-mail address is nfrankel@historians.org.

—Karen Halttunen (Univ. of Southern California) is vice president of the AHA’s Teaching Division, and chairs the Working Group for Historical Perspectives on Same-Sex Marriage.

Resolution Passed by the AHA Council in January 2009

WHEREAS, The AHA is committed to equity in the workplace and equal rights regardless of race, ethnicity, religious belief, disability, gender, or sexual orientation;

WHEREAS, It is one aspect of the mission of the AHA to bring historical expertise to bear on issues of pressing public concern;

WHEREAS, The Council concurs with the spirit of the resolution approved by the 2009 business meeting; and

WHEREAS, A boycott of the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego in 2010 would actually benefit the owner financially, but would cause severe financial loss for the AHA;

Resolved, That the AHA will implement the following strategies that it believes will more effectively bring attention to this issue:

1. Form a working group to collaborate with the 2010 Program Committee and the LGBTQ Task Force to create a series of sessions and special events that will address issues of equity and place questions of marriage and family in historical perspective.

2. Set aside $62,500 of AHA funds, and up to $100,000 if needed if matching funds from members and outside donors are not raised, to support initiatives in this vein proposed by the working group, Program Committee, or LGBTQ Task Force.

3. Arrange press coverage and invite public participation from San Diego and the surrounding communities to publicize the AHA’s position on equity and equal rights, as fully as possible. The American Historical Association proposes to use this Annual Meeting as an opportunity to educate its members and the public on this issue.

4. Make hotel rooms available in convenient alternative venues for AHA members who do not wish to patronize the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego.