History – Dukeminier Awards Journal
The Dukeminier Awards acknowledge the best law review articles published on sexual orientation and gender identity law issues each year. The goals of the prizes are to encourage scholars to begin or continue writing about sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy; provide valuable recognition and support for scholars, law students, and lawyers who write in this area; and provide easy access to each year’s best scholarly materials for those outside of legal academia, including lawyers, judges, other legal actors, and policy makers.
Each year, scholars, lawyers, judges, and law students throughout the United States publish hundreds of articles concerning various aspects of sexual orientation and gender identity law. The Williams Institute and the UCLA School of Law students who staff the journal have initiated The Dukeminier Awards to acknowledge and distribute the best of these articles.
Closer to home, The Dukeminier Awards provide a unique educational experience for UCLA law students. In addition to a basic sexual orientation law course, UCLA Law offers an annual seminar on “Legal Scholarship on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.” The students in this seminar, under the leadership of Williams faculty, analyze and discuss the best scholarship in the field in order to select each year’s Award winning articles.
Beginning in 2012, the initial screening of articles published during the previous academic year will be done by a faculty committee composed of four law faculty members (at least two from outside UCLA) and the senior Williams law teaching fellow. Anyone can submit nominations for best articles of the year. Committee members review nominated articles as well as additional articles screened by the law teaching fellow. Three members of the committee (selected by the Legal Scholarship Director) select 12 to 15 finalists from all those that go through this process.
Students in the seminar then closely read and compare the articles chosen for review as finalists. The seminar culminates with the selection by students and Williams-affiliated faculty members of three to five articles as the best for that year. Authors of the articles selected as winners of a Dukeminier Award receive a cash prize and are invited to UCLA to present their work.
The vast quantity of published articles is a testament to the broad range of sexual orientation and gender identity scholarship produced each year. There are many articles worthy of recognition and past selection committees readily acknowledge that the articles selected for a chosen year would not necessarily be the same choices everyone would make. However, careful consideration is given to a large number of articles in the process of making selections, and a great deal is learned from the articles selected as well as those that are not. Articles selected for a Dukeminier Award are provocative, interesting, and cutting edge, supported by careful research, and elegant writing.
In Memory Jesse Dukeminier
This journal is named in memory of Jesse J. Dukeminier (1925-2003), who was a member of the UCLA law faculty for forty years. The journal celebrates scholarly excellence in the field of sexual orientation, and Jesse Dukeminier was an excellent scholar and gay man. Q.E.D.? No.
His own scholarly eminence is unquestioned, but he never wrote on topics centered on sexual orientation. Nor was he what one would call an activist in the cause of gay rights. His field was property law, and in that field he was most certainly a star. His casebook, Property, co-authored with James E. Krier, has run to five editions, the latest published in 2002. It is, in substance and in number of adoptions, by far the leading casebook in the field. The same can be said of his casebook, Wills, Trusts, and Estates, co-authored with Stanley M. Johansen (6th ed. 2000). He was a nationally known authority on the Rule Against Perpetuities, and he contributed to the law’s development not only in his scholarship but in the legislative process. For example, he wrote the revision of the Rule adopted by the California legislature. Surely, however, the explanation for dedicating this journal to him lies elsewhere.
Jesse Dukeminier was a beloved teacher, among a handful of UCLA law teachers in the last generation who were revered by their students. (In his case it is not excessive to say “revered.”) His sexual orientation was no secret; his union with David S. Sanders, a prominent psychiatrist, began around the time Jesse joined the UCLA faculty, and was well known to all. Long before it became widely understood that Coming Out was an important act of social and political construction, Jesse was Out, without ceremony–indeed, without raising the subject, unless someone else raised it first. He went about his life, in work and in recreation, as himself. Precisely because he was so admired, he contributed to the cause of equal citizenship by carrying on his day-to-day living under the assumption that his sexual orientation, although very much a part of his sense of self, was not especially noteworthy.
For others who self-identified as gay or lesbian or bisexual, Jesse’s behavior could help to ease the way to their own public acknowledgement of their sexual orientation. Imagine that the year is 1973, and that you are one of Jesse’s students, a gay man or lesbian who has remained largely closeted. You may think, “If this highly admired man is Out, why should I not be?” And for those acquaintances who self-identified as straight, Jesse’s presence in their lives helped them to redefine the meanings they attached to homosexual orientation. Such a person might think, “If Jesse is gay, then the negative things I have heard about a gay orientation have to be false.” Jesse was not vain, but he was aware of his high standing among his students, his colleagues, and his friends. So, without ever getting on a soapbox, he was–knowingly–a walking advertisement for the proposition that equal treatment for every person, of any self-identified sexual orientation, is the proper social norm, the entitlement of all persons. The difference in public attitudes on this subject from 1973 to 2003 is remarkable and has made itself felt in legislation and in Supreme Court decisions. In a quiet-but-public way that was very much his own, Jesse Dukeminier was one local leader in that change.
When the generous donation that was to become the Williams Institute was offered to our school, Jesse Dukeminier was one of a group of faculty who participated in the Institute’s design. He continued in active support of the Institute until his death. The UCLA Law School community is honored to dedicate this journal to his memory.
– Kenneth L. Karst, 2004, UCLA School of Law