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Queering Family TreesRace, Reproductive Justice, and Lesbian Motherhood$
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Sandra Patton-Imani

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781479865567

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479865567.001.0001

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Queer in the “Heartland”

Queer in the “Heartland”

Allegories of Family, Race, and Equality, 2009

(p.221) 8 Queer in the “Heartland”
Queering Family Trees

Sandra Patton-Imani

Sandra Patton-Imani

NYU Press

I explore the public marriage debate through an allegorical reading of “marriage equality” in Iowa in 2009. Drawing on participant observation with a multiracial group of lesbians organizing a queer community center in Des Moines, Iowa, I narrate the extraordinary moment when the state granted new rights and a new sense of family legitimacy to same-sex couples. Both sides in the political debate claimed the high ground of the civil rights movement as touchstone for legitimacy. I draw on voices of lesbian mothers of color in particular to challenge both sides of the dialogue. I consider, in particular, “colorblind” narratives of equality on both conservative and liberal sides of the public debate. I explore the ways that sociopolitical narratives about white motherhood as salvation for vulnerable “orphans” functioned as an avenue toward political redemption for white lesbian mothers who now have the “choice” to save their children from the stigma of illegitimacy.

Keywords:   White motherhood, Civil rights movement, Marriage equality, Colorblind, Orphans, Redemption, Salvation, Transracial adoption, Choice, Iowa

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