Rainbow Rights: The Role of Lawyers and Courts in the Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights Movement

By Patricia A. Cain | Go to book overview

2
Lawyers, Legal Theories, and Litigation Strategy

Civil rights movements have long used litigation successfully to accomplish part of the movement's agenda. Although some people question whether specific court opinions actually contribute to positive social change, the litigation process itself does contribute to the development of a civil rights agenda. High profile cases attract media attention and help to educate the public generally. Movement leaders and spokespeople must be familiar with legal precedent so that they are prepared to give appropriate sound bites to the press when cases are decided. Particular rulings by courts affect later litigation theories and strategies. Negative rulings can contribute to an increase in political activity aimed at legislative changes.

For all of these reasons, one should expect lawyers to play an important role in civil rights movements. Lawyers did play important roles in the NAACP's legal battle over segregation, but they weren't the only activists in the movement for racial equality. Other key participants ranged from public figures like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to student protesters in the streets. There were few women lawyers available to play central roles in the first wave of feminism. Indeed, even at the beginning of the second wave, female lawyers were scarce. By the 1970s, however, women lawyers became a more visible part of the movement. The role of lawyers in the lesbian and gay civil rights movement is similar to that of lawyers in the second wave of feminism. The modern gay rights movement was not begun by lawyers, but by grassroots activists, much like the early wave of feminism. Yet it wasn't long before a small group of lawyers in New York agreed to form a legal organization that would litigate on behalf of les-

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Rainbow Rights: The Role of Lawyers and Courts in the Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights Movement
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • New Perspectives on Law, Culture, and Society ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Earlier Civil Rights Movements 12
  • 2 - Lawyers, Legal Theories, and Litigation Strategy 45
  • 3 - Public Rights: 1950-1985 73
  • 4 - Private Rights: 1950-1985 133
  • 5 - When Private Becomes Public 155
  • 6 - Bowers v. Hardwick 169
  • 7 - Public Sphere Rights Post-Bowers v. Hardwick 183
  • 8 - Private Sphere Rights Post-Bowers v. Hardwick 232
  • 9 - Public Recognition of Private Relationships Post-Bowers v. Hardwick 254
  • 10 - Conclusion 277
  • Table of Cases 289
  • Bibliography 308
  • Index 313
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