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It’s great to be here for this particular occasion to honor the work of Ruthann Robson, from whom I have, over the course of many years, learned so much.

First, I’ve learned from her the critical importance of doing work that is based on and reflects a set of political and ethical commitments to people who live under regimes of domination and inequality. Her scholarship, to me, is a model of engaged adversary scholarship. She has never fallen into the trap, so common to those of us who are professionalized in the legal academy, of thinking that this work does not matter in the lives of real people.

Secondly, through her work, specifically in lesbian legal theory, Ruthann has taught me the importance, to use Shane Phelan’s phrase, of “getting specific.” This sort of global, universal — the universal gay — term captures, or is supposed to capture, both men and women and those who see themselves on the very complex continuum between those two categories. That specificity is something that Ruthann’s work teaches to the degree that no other scholar writing has been able to achieve.

Finally, because she writes in so many different polyvalent discourses, one of the things I’ve learned from Ruthann’s work is the necessity and the validity of writing in different voices. She is a fiction writer. She is a journalist. She is a scholar. The fluidity with which she has moved across these different discourses in an effort to tell the stories of lesbians in and outside the law is really admirable, and this refusal to be locked into the straitjacket of reigning modes of discourse is incredible. She understands that, again, better than any practicing scholar I know.


Law | Legal Biography