New Entrants Bring New Questions


This short essay comments on the future of LGBT scholarship. The mainstreaming of LGBT equality norms brings with it an increased presence of new actors. Aligned with the LGBT movement, government lawyers and private non-movement lawyers now invest heavily in LGBT rights litigation. Opposed to the LGBT movement, Christian Right organizations devote substantial time and money to fighting LGBT equality. These new investments pose significant new questions for sociolegal scholars: How do the changing relationships of state actors to the LGBT rights and Christian Right movements influence how each movement uses elite support to bring about social change? How do government lawyers negotiate their roles as public lawyers and cause lawyers? How do movement lawyers respond to loss of control at the hands of supportive elites? How does analysis of the Christian Right/LGBT rights movement/countermovement relationship complicate established theories of legal mobilization? At the same time that the presence of Christian Right organizations poses fascinating questions for sociolegal scholarship, it also turns attention to important questions at the intersection of sexual orientation nondiscrimination and religious liberty: How will religious exemptions carve out exceptions to LGBT rights? How should religious free exercise and expressive association affect the meaning of sexual orientation nondiscrimination? What similarities can we observe between religious and LGBT identities? And how can we clearly articulate LGBT equality norms and yet respect and accommodate sincere religious objections? These questions point to just some of the pressing issues that scholars should address in the years to come.

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