What can straight people do to support gay rights? How much work or sacrifice must allies take on to do their share? Ian Ayres and Jennifer Brown--law professors, activists, husband and wife--propose practical strategies for helping straight men and women advocate for and with the gay community.
Straightforward advances a thesis that is at once simple and groundbreaking: to make real progress at the central flashpoints of controversy--marriage rights, employment discrimination, gays in the military, exclusion from the Boy Scouts, and religious controversies over homosexuality--straight as well as gay people need to speak up and act for equality. Ayres and Brown take aim at both the hearts and minds of the general public, focusing on strategies that can change the incentives and therefore the behavior of the recalcitrant.
The book is peppered with stories about real people and the decisions they have faced at home, in church, at work, in school, and in politics. It is also filled with creative legal and economic strategies for influencing public and corporate decision-making. For example, Ayres and Brown propose the development of a "fair employment mark" to help companies advertise inclusive employment policies. They also show how a simple pledge to vacation in states that legalize gay marriage can create powerful incentives for legislatures to amend their marriage laws.
Engagingly written and sure to spark debate, Straightforward promises to change the way America thinks about--and participates in--the gay rights movement.
Every gay man and lesbian in America has at least two heterosexual allies willing to actively support their struggle for equality, hypothesize husband-and-wife law professors Ayres (Yale, and also a Forbes columnist) and Brown (Quinnipiac College). They argue that the hetero ally total is something like 20 million-all of whom would actively welcome "pragmatic advice" on how they can support their homosexual friends, which the authors are more than happy to provide. They propose strategies for dealing with hetero privilege-"the range of perks and incentives with which heterosexually identified persons are rewarded for conforming to the dominant sexuality"-exercising it, disabling it and renouncing it-and provide examples of each. They suggest that heterosexuals consider masking their own sexual orientation when doing activism. From the "fair employment mark" (a proposal that would allow consumers to purchase products bearing a mark that signals gay-friendly employment policies) to the "The Vacation Pledge for Equal Marriage Rights" (a Website designed by Ayres and Brown that will collect promises from individuals vowing to spend their tourism dollars in the first state to democratically extend marriage rights to same-sex couples), this practical primer delivers on its promise to provide a "concrete guide to action" by offering innovative economic and legal tactics for influencing public and corporate policy.