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An exploration of the contested field of gay and lesbian sexuality and the law

Legal Inversions

Lesbians, Gay Men, and the Politics of the Law

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edited by Didi Herman and Carl Stychin

"[A]n interesting and well-balanced collection [that] will clearly stand out in the 'queer studies' market. It deserves to be read by lawyers and non-lawyers alike and offers an excellent comparative perspective on political struggles being fought in contemporary Western societies."
International Journal of Discrimination and the Law

Law reform struggles have always been a part of the grassroots lesbian and gay agenda. These critical essays examine the politics of these engagements, of lesbians, gay men, and the law in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. From a wide range of perspectives, the contributors combine new conceptual insights with a concern for the practicalities of political engagements, tackling such vital topics as legal definitions of homosexuality, AIDS activism, and race and sexuality.

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Excerpt

Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 (pdf).

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Reviews

"This is an important collection of essays focusing on how the law constructs homosexuality and how lesbian and gay rights activists use (or perhaps misuse) available legal categories to argue for the extension of rights to lesbian, bisexual, and gay persons. Existing scholarship on the social construction of homosexuality will be enriched by the critical insights of the legal academics who have contributed to this volume. I highly recommend Legal Inversions to everyone interested in the law's role in shaping the current debate over lesbian and gay rights. I particularly recommend it to American readers who may be unfamiliar with some of the legal battles discussed in essays by authors from Britain, Ireland, and Canada."
Patricia A. Cain, Professor of Law, University of Iowa

"Both informative and provocative, this book presents a variety of useful perspectives on law's relationship to lesbian and gay communities. Among several outstanding essays, I particularly liked those on lesbian baby boomers and the Massachusetts Gay Civil Rights Bill."
William Eskeridge, Professor of Law, Georgetown University

"Legal Inversions is truly a groundbreaking collection. It brings together work from four North Atlantic countries, and thus offers a broad perspective. The authors bring us up to date on the legal situation facing lesbians and gays in these countries. Most importantly, they significantly advance the discussions concerning the relation between law and other social institutions; rather than offering neat doctrinal solutions to our problems, these essays open up the question of law's efficacy and value in social change. This book is must reading for students of law and social change."
Shane Phelan, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of New Mexico

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Contents

Acknowledgments
Introductions – Didi Herman and Carl Stychin

Part I: The Subjects of Law
1. The Homosexualization of English Law – Leslie J. Moran
2. The Irish Supreme Court and the Constitution of Male Homosexuality – Leo Flynn
3. Homosexual Unmodified: Speculations on Law's Discourse, Race, and Construction of Sexual Identity – Mary Eaton

Part II: The Implications of Strategy
4. Familial Disputes? Sperm Donors, Lesbian Mothers, and Legal Personhood – Katherine Arnup and Susan Boyd
5. A Parent(ly) Knot: Can Heather Have Two Mommies? – Shelley A.M. Gavigan
6. Envisioning a Lesbian Equality Jurisprudence – Cynthia Peterson

Part III: Law Reform, Struggle, and the State
7. Sex, Lies, and Civil Rights: A Critical History of the Massachusetts Gay Civil Rights Bill – Peter M. Cicchino, Bruce R. Deming, and Katherine M. Nicholson
8. Getting "The Family Right": Legislating Heterosexuality in Britain, 1986-1991 – Davina Cooper and Didi Herman
9. Convictions: Theorizing Lesbians and Criminal Justice – Ruthann Robson
10. People with HIV/AIDS, Gay Men, and Lesbians: Shifting Identities, Shifting Priorities – William F. Flanagan

About the Editors and Contributors
Index

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About the Author(s)

Didi Herman is Senior Lecturer in Law at Keele University, United Kingdom, and author of Rights of Passage: Struggles for Lesbian and Gay Equality.

Carl Stychin is Lecturer in Law at Keele University, and author of Law's Desire: Sexuality and the Limits of Justice.

Contributors: Kathering Arnup, Susan Boyd, Peter M. Cicchino, Davina Cooper, Bruce R. Deming, Mary Eaton, William F. Flanagan, Leo Flynn, Shelley A. M. Gavigan, Leslie J. Moran, Katherine M. Nicholson, Cynthia Petersen, Ruthann Robson, and the editors.

Subject Categories

Law and Criminology
Gender Studies

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