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Katherine Franke
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Katherine Franke is the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, where she directs the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. She was awarded a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, and is among the nation's leading scholars in the area of feminism, sexuality and race. In addition to her scholarly writing on sexual harassment, gender equality, sexual rights, and racial history, she writes regularly for a more popular audience in the Gender and Sexuality Law Blog. Franke is also on the Executive Committee for Columbia's Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and the Center for Palestine Studies and teaches at a medium security women's prison in Manhattan.

Her legal career began as a civil rights lawyer, first specializing in HIV discrimination cases and then race and sex cases more generally. In the last 25 years she has authored briefs in cases addressing HIV discrimination, forced sterilization, same-sex sexual harassment, gender stereotyping, and transgender discrimination in the Supreme Court and other lower courts.

She was awarded a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship for her work on the ways in which marriage rights figure in both race and gay rights movements.

Entries by Katherine Franke

Unholy Alliance Between Conservatives and Liberals Behind Rise in RFRAs

(0) Comments | Posted April 7, 2015 | 2:48 PM

The passage of religious liberty laws in Indiana and Arkansas has put Republican governors on their heels, forcing them to explain -- mostly without success -- that the laws are not a license to discriminate against the marriage rights of same-sex couples. Backpedaling awkwardly when the measures generated calls to...

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Hobby Lobby 2.0: The Broader Implications for the Left

(18) Comments | Posted July 11, 2014 | 1:46 PM

Much as been written about the Supreme Court's recent Hobby Lobby ruling and how it took up a conflict between reproductive rights and religious liberty, coming down on the side of religion and ceding to the religious right's effort to stain contraception with the stigma associated with abortion.


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Lesbian 'Husbands' and Gay 'Wives': The Gendering of Gay Divorce

(24) Comments | Posted July 9, 2013 | 4:46 PM

Lesbian and gay people and their families have much to celebrate in the Supreme Court's rulings in the DOMA and Proposition 8 cases. While not going so far as to declare a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry, Justice Kennedy's decision in Windsor called out DOMA as an unambiguous...

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All In: Marriage, Rights and Hypocrisy -- The Case of David Petraeus

(2) Comments | Posted November 14, 2012 | 1:18 PM

As many now know, CIA Director and retired four-star Army General David Patraeus has resigned his post at the CIA on account of newly emerging information that he had what the media calls an "extra-marital" affair with Paula Broadwell, who is also married. Broadwell is the author of...

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Why We Boycotted the Equality Forum: Gay Rights Become a Tool in Israel's Rebranding Campaign

(110) Comments | Posted May 11, 2012 | 12:21 PM

Co-written with Rabbi Rebecca Alpert

Last week we were scheduled to speak at the Constitution Center as part of the Equality Forum's 2012 LGBT Summit. Instead we, a rabbi and a law professor, withdrew our appearances at the event, disturbed that the Equality Forum, a major mainstream gay-rights...

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PFLAG Holds Israeli Pinkwashing Event (Updated)

(42) Comments | Posted February 22, 2012 | 3:21 PM

PFLAG, Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, a national organization that "promotes the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, their families and friends," has unfortunately gotten snared in a "pinkwashing" event by the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. Jay Huckaby,...

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Court of Appeals Prop 8 Ruling -- Treating Marriage as a License, Not a Sacrament

(7) Comments | Posted February 8, 2012 | 6:38 PM

Rainbow flags and corsages were waving high in front of the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village last night. There's much to celebrate about the 9th Circuit's ruling issued yesterday confirming the lower court finding that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. As I noted yesterday and Nan Hunter...

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Independence Day Greetings from a Marriage "Liberationist"

(1) Comments | Posted July 4, 2011 | 7:27 PM

It's funny, when I was writing my dissertation many years ago, my adviser said to me: "Katherine, you're really a libertarian when it comes to gender, aren't you?" At the time I resisted the moniker, but is "libertarian" worse than "liberationist"? Who, on the 4th of July of all days,...

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Judge Ware Denies Motion to Vacate Prop 8 Trial

(0) Comments | Posted June 14, 2011 | 5:42 PM

This just in: Judge James Ware, acting very quickly after oral argument yesterday, has just issued a thoughtful opinion denying the ludicrous and offensive motion made by the Perry defendants that the trial opinion in the case be thrown out on account of the purported bias of the trial judge,...

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HHS Issues New Medicaid Rules (Sort of) Protecting Same-Sex Couples

(0) Comments | Posted June 13, 2011 | 4:35 PM

Last Friday Heath and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued new regulations instructing states that they could "offer same-sex couples many of the same financial and asset protections available to opposite-sex couples when a partner is entering a nursing home or care facility." The new rules relate to states' ability...

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What's The Rush? Columbia President Bollinger Signs New Agreement With the Navy

(6) Comments | Posted June 2, 2011 | 12:44 PM

Last Thursday, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger stood on the deck of the U.S.S. Iwo Jima with the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, and signed an agreement to bring NROTC (Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps) back to Columbia after an almost 40 year ban. President Bollinger's formalization of an...

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Enough Already With "Love Child," "Illegitimate," and "Out-of-Wedlock"

(1) Comments | Posted May 19, 2011 | 7:19 PM

Alright -- it's time for an "offensive nomenclature call-out" moment. Someone has to declare these terms no longer usable by the media, by pundits, or really, by anyone, so here's the list:

Love Child -- used by the NY Daily News, the Huffington Post, and the...

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Egyptian Women and Palestinian Men Can Now Confer Egyptian Citizenship on Their Children

(4) Comments | Posted May 17, 2011 | 6:13 PM

The new Egyptian Interior Minister, Major-General Mansour al-Issawi, announced last week that Egyptian women who have a child with a Palestinian man can confer their Egyptian citizenship to their child. This is a significant shift in Egyptian citizenship law with implications from both a gender and a Palestinian...

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DOMA's New Lawyers: "Some Good Americans"

(82) Comments | Posted May 7, 2011 | 4:43 PM

When Paul Clement left King & Spalding last week and joined up with the Bancroft firm, he took his big new client with him, the House of Representatives, who had hired him to defend against repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. According to the new...

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King & Spalding's Self-Made Mess

(1) Comments | Posted April 26, 2011 | 4:48 PM

Big day in Big Law and Gay Law -- not only did King & Spalding end their firm representation of the "Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives" (BLAGHOR??) in defending the (indefensible) Defense of Marriage Act, but Paul Clement, the King & Spalding partner who dragged the...

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King and Spalding Muzzles All Employees From Advocating Repeal of DOMA

(27) Comments | Posted April 22, 2011 | 4:02 PM

Metro Weekly has the story, but this is outrageous. Paul Clement, partner at King and Spalding, signed the firm up to represent the House of Representatives in defending the Defense of Marriage Act. The agreement between the firm and the government contains a provision that prohibits...

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Delaware's New Civil Union Law -- Read It Before You Applaud

(0) Comments | Posted April 16, 2011 | 8:14 PM

The Delaware governor, Jack Markell, is prepared to sign into law a new Civil Union bill, making Delaware the 8th state to pass a law that creates a civil status functionally equivalent to marriage (at least on a state level until DOMA is repealed). These laws have come to be...

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Return of ROTC to Columbia University? An Issue Much Larger Than 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

(12) Comments | Posted March 9, 2011 | 3:59 PM

Harvard University announced last week that it would reinstate its on-campus ROTC program, after barring the military training program from campus for 41 years. On March 4th, Columbia University's Senate will begin deliberations on whether Columbia should follow suit. (Columbia students who wish to enroll in...

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Civil Unions in Hawaii and Illinois: How'd They Get it Right?

(9) Comments | Posted February 23, 2011 | 12:18 PM

The governor of Illinois signed a bill into law legalizing civil unions in early February, and the governor of Hawaii will sign into law a similar provision today. These events have gained much media attention, but most of the coverage has described the new laws as offering same-sex...

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A Gay Rights Angle on the Egyptian Revolution?

(20) Comments | Posted February 22, 2011 | 3:43 PM

Egyptian officials announced on Saturday that the state's emergency laws might be lifted in six months. We'll see. Since 1967, Egypt has spent all but five months under a declared "state of emergency" by which the regime has rationalized the outlawing of demonstrations, the use of indefinite detentions...

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