Sexual Orientation and the Law



2015 Spring

About This Class

In 1960 all fifty states had sodomy laws. The mere imputation of homosexuality ruined careers and was considered so damaging that it was defamation per se. Today, same-sex couples can marry in eighteen states (and D.C.) and can obtain a civil union or domestic partnership in another seven states. Almost half the states, and most major municipalities, protect gay men and lesbians (and transgendered people, in a growing number of those states) from employment and housing discrimination. What accounts for this extraordinary change in society's attitude toward homosexuality and gender identity? We will ponder this question as we explore the historical and contemporary relationship between sexual identity and the law. Topics covered include LGBT youth issues, college life, workplace discrimination, the military, and family law. Much of the legal doctrine considered in the course is constitutional, including in-depth studies of the right to privacy, the First Amendment, and equal protection. Throughout the semester we will also ask whether something has been lost in the meteoric rise of LGBT civil rights. In the drive for equality, has the LGBT community subverted the dominant paradigm or been co-opted by it--can a gay pride parade exist without corporate sponsorship? In this context we will offer a queer theory critique of the mainstream LGBT movement. Join us to study and debate on one of the most compelling civil rights issues of our time.Method of evaluation: Class participation and term paper. AWR: Yes.

Class Code