The Rhetoric of Same-Sex Relationships

3 Law Journal for Social Justice 11 (Fall 2012)

Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1237

17 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2013

See all articles by Carrie Sperling

Carrie Sperling

University of Wisconsin Law School, Frank J. Remington Center

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

This Essay is about a struggle for recognition, for acceptance, for humane treatment. It is also about language, story, and metaphor and the way these persuasive devices shape our legal rights as gays and lesbians. This Essay explores the use of metaphor in two cases that have affected the rights of gays and lesbians for nearly three decades " Bowers v. Hardwick and Shahar v. Bowers. These cases provide insight into the way language and metaphor framed the issues or predicted the outcomes. It ends with a discussion of Diaz v. Brewer, a case in which I, along with several other plaintiffs, challenged the State of Arizona's decision to strip health care benefits from gay and lesbian employees' domestic partners. I hope to convince you that equal rights are gained not simply through carefully crafted legal arguments, but also through effective use of language. Words and stories can be analyzed literally, but their persuasive effects operate mostly outside the reader's conscious awareness. Therefore, in order to further the legal rights of marginalized groups, we must pay close attention to the language we use and the stories we tell.

Keywords: persuasion, gay, lesbian, sodomy, same-sex marriage, marriage, domestic partners, rhetoric, metaphor, language, health care, Bowers

JEL Classification: K42

Suggested Citation

Sperling, Carrie, The Rhetoric of Same-Sex Relationships (2012). 3 Law Journal for Social Justice 11 (Fall 2012), Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1237, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2338663

Carrie Sperling (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin Law School, Frank J. Remington Center ( email )

975 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
United States

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