651 - Sexual Identity and the Law (2 hours)
This class explores a wide variety of issues related to sexual identity and sexual orientation, particularly as those issues continue to push the law to address the wide variations of patterns in which human beings relate. The course looks at the law as it both constricts societal development at times and acts as a catalyst for radical social change at other times. With the law as the starting point, the overarching questions that define the place of the gay person in American society will be examined. We will consider, among other topics, the regulation of sexuality, sexual orientation, gender roles, the workplace, the intersection of law and religion, same-sex relationships, and parenting. Much of the legal doctrine considered in this course will inevitably be constitutional in nature, including studies of the right to privacy, the First Amendment, and equal protection. The course will also touch on basic employment and family law doctrines as they relate to gay litigants. Apart from the substantive law, our doctrinal discussions will focus on a number of larger themes: the nature/nurture debate and its legal ramifications; the public/private distinction as exhibited in the legal conflicts between free expression and “coming out” and the “right to be let alone”; gender roles and their changing place in society; and the equality/diversity distinction, which arises in the context of assimilation versus difference.