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Sandra Patton-Imani in the Department of Culture and Society received research support (via a Travel Grant) and funding for indexing (via Materials and Services) for her recent book Queering Family Trees: Race, Reproductive Justice, and Lesbian Motherhood, forthcoming from New York University Press.

 Cover of Queering Family Trees

Queering Family Trees explores the lived experience of family-making among queer mothers in the U.S. between 1991 and 2015. While the legalization of same-sex marriage and adoption has provided avenues towards equality for some couples, structural and economic barriers have meant that others—especially queer women of color with fewer financial resources—are not, in practice, able to avail themselves of supports necessary to create and sustain their families. This interdisciplinary ethnographic research draws on interviews with Indigenous, African American, Latina, Asian American, and white queer mothers living in a range of U.S. states, considered in relation to news media and public law and policy debates. I apply a reproductive justice analysis, critically exploring the ways intersections of race, gender, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation shape the experiences of familiesnavigating social and legal contexts that define queer families as illegitimate. I explore these debates in relation to policy changes in adoption, welfare, and immigration, making evident how same-sex marriage furthers a neoliberal economic agenda. Little mainstream or scholarly attention has been given to the lives and families of lesbians of color. Indeed, the erasure of queers of color from these debates was crucial to maintaining a narrative equating marriage with equality. The family-making narratives of these mothers challenge the assimilation-versus-resistance framework that has shaped understandings of LGBTQ marriage debates. I argue that, contrary to public narratives celebrating equality through marriage, the federal legalization of same-sex marriage reinforces existing structures of inequality grounded in race, gender, sexuality, and class. 

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