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Theorizing And Litigating The Rights Of Sexual Minorities, Nancy Levit Jan 2009

Theorizing And Litigating The Rights Of Sexual Minorities, Nancy Levit

Nancy Levit

One of the best measures of a society is how it treats its vulnerable groups. A central idea in Professor Martha Nussbaum's writings is that all humans "are of equal dignity and worth, no matter where they are situated in society." The strategic challenge in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) rights litigation is how to get courts to see sexual minorities as people worthy of equal dignity and respect. This article focuses on the roles of a positive emotion - love - and a procedural method of proof - science - in the shaping of laws defining the rights …


September 11 Relief Efforts And Surviving Same-Sex Partners: Reflections On Relationships In The Absence Of Legal Recognition, Nancy J. Knauer Jan 2005

September 11 Relief Efforts And Surviving Same-Sex Partners: Reflections On Relationships In The Absence Of Legal Recognition, Nancy J. Knauer

Nancy J. Knauer

The criteria established by federal, state, and private relief efforts to assist the families of the victims of the September 11 attacks present a unique opportunity to examine the status of same-sex relationships in the United States. In the absence of uniform relationship recognition, surviving same-sex partners continue to struggle with a loss that legally is not cognizable. The stories from the September 11 survivors illustrate that a surviving partner is a legal stranger, who often must reconfigure her relationship with her partner to fit within the various legal categories where relief or compensation might be forthcoming. These legal categories …


Science, Identity, And The Construction Of The Gay Political Narrative, Nancy J. Knauer Jan 2003

Science, Identity, And The Construction Of The Gay Political Narrative, Nancy J. Knauer

Nancy J. Knauer

This Article contends that the current debate over gay civil rights is, at base, a dispute over the nature of same-sex desire. Pro-gay forces advocate an ethnic or identity model of homosexuality based on the conviction that sexual orientation is an immutable, unchosen, and benign characteristic. The assertion that, in essence, gays are "born that way," has produced a gay political narrative that rests on claims of shared identity (i.e., homosexuals are a blameless minority) and arguments of equivalence (i.e., as a blameless minority, homosexuals deserve equal treatment and protection against discrimination). The pro-family counter-narrative is based on a behavioral …


September 11 Attacks And Surviving Same-Sex Partners: Defining Family Through Tragedy, Nancy J. Knauer Dec 2001

September 11 Attacks And Surviving Same-Sex Partners: Defining Family Through Tragedy, Nancy J. Knauer

Nancy J. Knauer

The September 11 relief efforts present a unique prism through which to view the status of same-sex relationships and to consider which families count when the United States is supposedly at its most generous, most united, and most injured. On a basic human level, would the nation grieve for Peggy Neff, who lost her partner of 18 years when Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, as it had for the widow of a fire fighter? Would Neff be eligible to file a claim with the multi-billion dollar federal September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, which Congress established to compensate victims and …


Heteronormativity And The Federal Tax Code, Nancy J. Knauer Dec 1997

Heteronormativity And The Federal Tax Code, Nancy J. Knauer

Nancy J. Knauer

Proponents of same-sex marriage demand equal marriage rights as a matter of fundamental human dignity and as a means to gain certain legal benefits and protections. The ability to file joint federal income tax returns is invariably listed as one of the benefits associated with marriage. This outsider perspective contradicts the popular notion that the income tax is anti-marriage and offers a useful vantage point from which to analyze the marital provisions of the federal tax code, the treatment of the provisions in tax scholarship, and legislative proposals for "pro-family" tax reform. The joint filing provisions are just one example …