Publication details [#57003]

VanderStouwe, Chris. 2013. Religious victimization as social empowerment in discrimination narratives from California’s Proposition 8 campaign. Journal of Language and Sexuality 2 (2) : 235–261.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


One of the premier social issues in contemporary US politics is that of same-sex marriage. This research explores language use and identity construction by same-sex marriage supporters through narratives of discrimination. This paper analyzes data collected through the non-profit Marriage Equality USA, wherein narrators respond to a survey question about experiences of discrimination during California’s Proposition 8 campaign, a statewide initiative that repealed the rights of same-sex couples to marry. In doing so, narrators use ideologies of religion and religious affiliation to: (1) construct a victim identity in relation to their experiences, (2) use this as a springboard to challenge their victimization, (3) establish opposition between individual and institutional positioning of religious identity, and (4) switch roles with their victimizers with respect to victim and empowered positions. In doing so, narrators use victimization as empowerment to convey a progressive position in an inevitably successful social movement.