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Legal Consciousness and LGBT Research: The Importance of Law in the Everyday Lives of LGBT Individuals

Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 59, 2012

Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-10

8 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2012 Last revised: 12 May 2012

Nancy J. Knauer

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Date Written: February 12, 2012

Abstract

The law occupies a prominent place in the everyday lives of LGBT individuals, and the continuing regulation and policing of sexuality and gender weighs heavily on many people who identify as LGBT. Despite remarkable progress in the area of LGBT civil rights, LGBT individuals in the United States still lack formal equality and are denied many of the protections that are afforded other historically disadvantaged groups. These legal disabilities represent an ongoing source of minority stress and can produce a correspondingly high degree of “legal consciousness” within the LGBT community.

Given the importance of law in LGBT lives, it is not surprising that LGBT-related research often incorporates references to the legal status of LGBT individuals. Over the last several years, however, the pace of change in the area of LGBT civil rights has been so fast and uneven that it has become increasingly difficult to keep up with the most recent developments. This Essay is designed to offer an accessible framework for understanding the current state of LGBT civil rights in the United States, with a special focus on the question of relationship recognition. It explains the key concepts, provides some basic research guidelines, and suggests a number of helpful resources in order to ensure that the “legal consciousness” of LGBT-related research reflects the latest developments in the field.

Keywords: legal consciousness, LGBT, LGBT civil rights, same-sex marriage, gay marriage, DOMA, gay, lesbian, Perry v Brown, hospital visitation, federalism, relationship recognition, direct democracy, same-sex divorce, gay divorce, Proposition 8, domestic partnership, civil union, designated beneficiary

JEL Classification: J12, J15, J7, K1

Suggested Citation

Knauer, Nancy J., Legal Consciousness and LGBT Research: The Importance of Law in the Everyday Lives of LGBT Individuals (February 12, 2012). Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 59, 2012; Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-10. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2003943

Nancy J. Knauer (Contact Author)

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States
215-204-1688 (Phone)
215-204-1185 (Fax)

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