October 9th, 2011 | Other Projects
Another sad loss of someone who died much too young, at 56. I didn’t know Paula personally, but always admired the radical legal vision of her work at the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, NGLTF, and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
There’s a very good obituary in the Times that cites an article she wrote back in 1989.
“When analyzed from the standpoint of civil rights, certainly lesbians and gay men should have the right to marry,” she wrote in the fall 1989 issue of Out/Look magazine as part of a debate with Thomas B. Stoddard, a colleague at Lambda who strongly favored same-sex marriage. “But obtaining a right does not always result in justice.”
Ms. Ettelbrick continued, “Justice for gay men and lesbians will be achieved only when we are accepted and supported in this society despite our differences from the dominant culture and the choices we make regarding our relationships.”
I remember that debate in Out/Look very well—it helped to shape my own thinking about what is gained and lost as a liberation movement begins to achieve success. I don’t want to be accepted because I’m like everyone else. I want to be accepted despite the fact that I’m not.
It’s very sad that her work was cut so short.