Fall 2013 Class Descriptions
As of 1/30/2015 9:36:09 AM
SexualOrien/GenderID & the Law
This seminar will examine legal issues pertaining to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people and the LGBT civil rights movement from a variety of perspectives, i.e., theoretical, historical, political, and judicial.
We are at a critical moment in LGBT civil rights history. After having lost at the ballot box 32 times in a row, the LGBT movement prevailed in November 2012 election in all 4 states where marriage equality was on the ballot (3 directly affirming marriage equality and 1 repudiating a proposed constitutional amendment banning such unions). And, of course, there are currently two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court that present fundamental questions about the extent to which the Constitution constrains the ability of states and the federal government in the definition of marriage. Both are likely to be decided by the time this course is taught (of course, whether the Court reaches the substantive questions or decides on other grounds remains to be seen).
Meanwhile, overshadowed by the marriage debate but nonetheless critical, are "on the ground" civil rights issues being legislated and litigated relating to employment protections, families (formation, recognition, adoption & parental rights, dissolution, etc.), immigration, military service (not fully resolved by the repeal of DADT), and more. These speak to LGBT participation more broadly in the social, political and economic spheres of our society and the increasing visibility of gay and transgender people in the legal arena. As with other civil rights issues, these broader questions and issues raise the question of whether the courts lead or follow on such social issues.
Over the course of a semester, students will develop a solid grounding in this growing area of law and policy and a deeper understanding of the role that social justice activism plays in developing law.
The course is an examination of the societal and legal stepping-stones that brought us to this historic moment in time, divided into eight units addressing:
1) theories of gender and sexuality, and sources of discrimination against lesbians, gays and transgender people;
2) the emergence of the gay rights movement and accessing the political process to address LGBT discrimination;
3) accessing the federal judicial system to address LGBT discrimination;
4) the backlash epitomized by DOMA and state "mini-DOMAs";
5) state and federal constitutional challenges to state marriage laws;
6) the push for federal recognition of same-sex marriage;
7) gay and transgender family law issues at the state level; and
8) the future of the LGBT civil rights movement including the need to address religious liberty issues.