Sexual Orientation and the Law
Michael H. McGee
The debate about the legal status of gays and lesbians is intense and very positional, with a large bloc of people and institutions declaring that any sexual orientation other than the traditional male-female pairing is a sin and a crime and should not be tolerated under any circumstances. On the other side is an increasingly large number of persons who are proclaiming that sexual orientation should not be a basis for punishment, shunning, or discrimination and that the gay and lesbian minority class should have all of the legal rights and protections accorded to the heterosexual population, without any distinction or limit. In the middle of all of this are most of the people, who do not personally have any very strong feelings either way and for the most part wish that the debate would just go away or feel vaguely that homosexuals should just be left alone to live their own lives privately and in peace, as long as they do not bother anybody else.
There will not be much additional change in the laws or in the culture with regard to gays and lesbians until the heterosexual majority sees the need for change. Groups with minimal voting power fare poorly in a democracy unless they are allied with other blocs of voters. Few blocs of voters have wanted to be identified with or support gay and lesbian issues. Therefore this chapter also attempts to demonstrate those analytical perspectives that would be particularly persuasive to the majority community, including the elected officials and judges, who will ultimately be making the changes.