America will never be gay and lesbian friendly, says researcher

The relationship between church, state and the international crisis facing welfare finance is the root cause of why some countries are friendlier to same-sex couples than others, according to a University of Manchester researcher.

Professor Angie Wilson's findings, based on an analysis of ten countries, are published in her new book this month, ahead of the 's judgement on this week.

According to Professor Wilson, the court's nine justices are unlikely to proclaim a national right to same-sex marriage, differing widely from the attitudes of policy makers in Western Europe.

In her book, 'Why Europe is Lesbian and Gay friendly and why America never will be', published by Suny Press, she argues there is a gap in how we understand the advancement of gay rights across different countries.

Well organised gay and lesbian movements, political action, changes in and human rights legislation, have all contributed to policy changes in gay friendly Europe, she says.

But more fundamental is the ' of care': the intersection of state, market, religious and family relations.

She will be giving a prestigious TED talk on the topic, online next month.

She said: "My research asks how is it that so many European countries have policies that protect citizens from discrimination based on and recognize , when many American states do not?

"The historical involvement of Christian churches, particularly in post- welfare settlements, and the resulting political economy of care in each country, is unique. However, one common factor is the interpretation of 'the family'.

"In many US States – especially in the South – religiosity is high, and Christian churches, rather than the state, are primary providers of , health and other services.

"This represents a huge financial investment in the traditional family and the church as the two key providers of services.

"If socially conservative religions lose their investment in service provision, they lose the political power to define morality and much of their political influence."

She added: "As European countries are facing austerity, redefining the traditional family to encompass and gay and lesbian people makes financial sense for states: families are far cheaper than the state at providing welfare.

"For those countries where religiosity is lower, this is going to be easier. In America, where religiosity is high and there is little federal support for welfare, it is going to be harder."

Professor Wilson's work can help explain policy development in countries such as:

  • Russia. Recently passed law banning gay 'propaganda' is indicative of unfriendly policies to gay and lesbian people. This must be seen in the context of growing religiosity, investment in welfare from the Christian right and lack of dependable state welfare.
  • France. Recently allowed its first gay marriage. Despite the love of the traditional family, France's increasing secularism and established welfare system has created this policy opportunity.
  • Britain. Same-sex marriage law and an impressive contemporary history of policy expansion. Brown and Blair both redefined the family, as Cameron is continuing this trend. At least part of the reasoning behind this was the need for a larger population to be defined as 'family' and therefore responsible financially for care – thus saving the state money.
  • Spain. Legalises same sex marriages even though it is Catholic country. Explained by more women in work, migration into the cities which weakened Spain's dependence on the extended family to meet welfare needs. This created a momentous policy opportunity for well organized activists.
  • Italy. Less friendly to gay and lesbian people, explained by historic investment of the Catholic Church in direct care provision.
  • America. High and little national welfare reinforces the power of the Christian Right in many 'red states'. Churches are key providers of welfare for individual states and thus have great power to define the family according to their morality. Those individual states with significant investment in welfare are the exact ones with laws more inclusive of gay and lesbian couples.

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Jun 24, 2013
It's a shame, really, that we claim to be a haven of freedom for EVERYONE; but still discriminate against just about any group who isn't wealthy, white, male, Christian and Republican.
"Hey, you! Quit k'vetching about your condition and get back to work! We need to feed our tax-free offshore havens..."

Jun 24, 2013
freedom for EVERYONE; but still discriminate

Who discriminates? Ellen DeGeneres is very popular, and nearly every popular TV show has at least one homosexual character. Usually it's the white, male, Christian who is discriminated and ridiculed by the entertainment industry.
BTW, this article discriminates by ignoring Asia.
Homosexuals are a significant part of society and entertainment in Philippines.
What annoys me most is how 'liberals' highjack language. Socialists called themselves 'progressive', then 'liberal'. Why did homosexual men call themselves 'gay'? Is it like 1984?

Jun 25, 2013
I'm surprised there aren't more good 'ol right-wing conservatives frothing with righteous indignation at this article. ryggesogn never fails to disappoint, I don't even have to read his post, all that's required is to squint my eyes and pick out the words in quotation marks, in this case: 'liberals', 'progressive', 'liberal' and 'gay'. That's about 6.9 on the Richter scale of Republican outrage. If only they had managed to work in Obama, global warming and the Affordable Health Care act into the article, I do believe it could have induced aneurysms in our fiendish Republican friends :P

Jun 25, 2013
Who discriminates? Ellen DeGeneres is very popular, and nearly every popular TV show has at least one homosexual character. Usually it's the white, male, Christian who is discriminated and ridiculed by the entertainment industry.

You should learn more about how capitalism works.
Ellen DeGeneres does a great job of selling product X.
Gay characters do a great job of selling product X.
I would like to take a break here and tell you that product X is really great and you should buy it today.
Did you buy product X, or are you a silly ignorant white, male, Christian who is to stupid to buy product X? Perhaps your wife will buy product X for you, like she always does, because she is always right and loves you.
This post was brought to you by the makers of product X. Product X, now with more X.

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