The law, like the suburban American house, is designed to order a particular pattern of relationships, many of them oriented around the heterosexual nuclear family. For real people in contemporary circumstances to inhabit the house the law built, one has to find side doors and discreet corners, while the dominant space changes little and the façade remains unaltered. The two big L.G.B.T.-rights Supreme Court victories that came before Bostock—Windsor and Obergefell—did exactly that: they carved out a place for monogamous same-sex couples who want to marry (statistically, these are more apt to be white middle-class people like the plaintiffs) in the house of the American nuclear family.
As early as 1981, one of Thatcher’s advisers complained that she bullied her weaker colleagues: “You criticise colleagues in front of each other and in front of their officials. . . . You give little praise or credit.” “If this is the best you can do,” she told Geoffrey Howe, a long-abused Cabinet minister, “then I’d better send you to hospital and deliver the statement myself.” On one occasion, when she became particularly “strident,” the Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney had to remind her, “I am not a member of your government, I am the head of a sovereign nation!” But she could just as easily rebuke entire nations, genders, or both at once. “You men, you’re all so weak,” she spat at some Dutch representatives after an episode of failed European negotiation.BACK TO TOP