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Have We Arrived Yet? LGBT Rights and the Limits of Formal Equality

Law and Sexuality, Vol. 19, p. 160, 2010

6 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2010 Last revised: 21 Aug 2012

Katie R. Eyer

Rutgers Law School

Date Written: April 3, 2010


Formal equality has been a hard-fought achievement for many historically oppressed groups; one that has resulted in the effectuation of radical social and legal change, but that has also been the subject of profound disappointments. In this essay, I address the limitations of formal equality and the implications of those limitations for the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) community. I argue that – as we increasingly move towards a regime of formal legal protections for LGBT individuals – gender and sexuality law scholars will need to pay increasing attention to the unique challenges of a formal equality regime. I conclude by providing initial thoughts on how to avoid some of the difficulties that other protected groups have faced as they transition to formal equality. This essay is forthcoming as part of a collection of essays in Law & Sexuality about the future of gender and sexuality law scholarship.

Keywords: Formal Equality, Discrimination, Civil Rights, Sexuality, Gender

Suggested Citation

Eyer, Katie R., Have We Arrived Yet? LGBT Rights and the Limits of Formal Equality (April 3, 2010). Law and Sexuality, Vol. 19, p. 160, 2010. Available at SSRN:

Katie R. Eyer (Contact Author)

Rutgers Law School ( email )

217 N. 5th Street
Camden, NJ 08102-1203
United States
856-225-6960 (Phone)

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