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Getting Queer Priorities Straight: How Direct Legal Services Can Democratize Issue Prioritization in the LGBT Rights Movement

31 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2014 Last revised: 7 Nov 2014

Leonore Carpenter

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Date Written: August 1, 2014

Abstract

This Article explores the ways in which a more robust link to direct legal service programs can help LGBT impact litigation organizations answer critiques and create a scheme for prioritizing legal issues that is more pluralistic and democratic.

The Article posits that the lack of a clear democratic component in LGBT impact litigators’ prioritization schemes contributes to critiques of the work engaged in by those organizations. The Article specifically identifies two kinds of critiques - a “procedural” critique that questions the process by which impact litigators set priorities, and a “substantive” critique that questions the priorities themselves. The Article observes that both kinds of critiques are partially based upon the lack of an evident democratic method of priority-setting. The Article then suggests that in order to address those critiques, LGBT impact organizations can democratize their issue selection process by deliberately and systematically collecting and relying upon data on community need that is gathered by providers of LGBT-specific direct legal services.

While scholarship regarding the LGBT rights movement has studied impact litigation groups in some depth, there has been little examination of the important work that direct legal service organizations plays in that movement, and even less examination of the interplay between impact litigators and direct service providers. This Article advances the discussion by demonstrating how increased commitment to developing collaborations between impact litigators and direct service projects answers pervasive movement critiques and strengthens the movement overall.

Keywords: Law and social movements, Law and social change, Sexual orientation, Gender identity, Impact litigation, Litigation priorities, homosexuality, queer, transgender, direct legal services

JEL Classification: K19, K39

Suggested Citation

Carpenter, Leonore, Getting Queer Priorities Straight: How Direct Legal Services Can Democratize Issue Prioritization in the LGBT Rights Movement (August 1, 2014). 17 U. PA J. Law & Social Change 107 (2014); Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2014-21. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2424916

Leonore Carpenter (Contact Author)

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

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States
215-204-4977 (Phone)

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