Abstract: This workshop will explore the consequences and correlates of supporting inequality from the perspective of the heterosexual majority. Specifically, the constructs that foster resistance to support for marriage equality, and the relationship between such resistance and negative behavioral intentions toward LGBT individuals will be examined.
The Impact of Marriage Inequality (Bess Watts): Using real-life stories, this discussion examines the outcomes of unequal treatment of same-sex couples who were denied the 1138 Federal and/or 1324 NY State marriage protections attached to a civil marriage license. While legislative, executive, and judicial actions have mitigated some inequities, disparities remain that negatively affect same-sex couples, their families and society. The positive outcomes of full marriage equality are explored.
Creating Change for Marriage Equality (Anne Tischer): This part of the workshop examines the grassroots organizing steps used to effectively change the issue narrative, sway public opinion, and foster “political will” in the successful campaign for NY marriage equality in 2011.Rochester activism was recognized as instrumental in causing the first GOP State Senator to publicly support marriage equality and set the stage for ultimate success.
Jennifer Ratcliff is an assistant professor at The College at Brockport. She received her PhD in social psychology from Ohio University and completed postdoctoral training at Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. Dr. Ratcliff’s research program focuses on understanding the processes by which individuals develop and maintain both positive and negative attitudes toward marginalized out-groups. This work has been applied to understanding how to bring about positive relations between marginalized groups and majority groups in America (e.g., gay men and heterosexual individuals), as well as in Israel (e.g., Arab Israelis and Jewish Israelis).
Anne Tischer is a retired social services worker well known in Rochester for LGBT rights activism. In 2004, Anne and Bess Watts were the first same-sex couple to be refused a marriage license in Rochester. As front-page news, they married in a public act of civil disobedience. Founders of Equality Rochester and local chapters of Marriage Equality New York and Pride at Work AFL-CIO, they have been recognized by Empire State Pride Agenda, Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley, Metro Justice, Rochester Labor Council and Monroe County Legislature. They were Grand Marshals of the 2011 Rochester Pride Parade. Anne holds a BS in Health Science from The College at Brockport.
Bess Watts is president of Civil Service Employee Association Local 828 as well as founder of Pride at Work AFL-CIO, Rochester-Finger Lakes. She is on both the national executive board for Pride at Work and the executive board of Rochester Labor Council (RLC). A library technician at Monroe Community College (MCC), Bess successfully pursued domestic partner benefits for employees in 2004. Among many recognitions, she received the MCC Innovation of the Year award for initiating their Safe Zone project and the RLC Community Solidarity Award. In 2006, Bess and Anne Tischer legally wed in Canada after 12 years together.