Gay/Lesbian Law Pathfinder

Laws affecting gays and lesbians in the U.S. have changed slowly, and they cross disciplines, as in any civil rights movement. This is a selected guide to resources, by topic, that are available in print, on the Internet, and through Library databases. Only some books are mentioned – mainly those on gays as they relate to law. To find general books on social issues related to gays, use an college or university library catalog, your public library, or FIRSTSEARCH. You can use the Index to Legal Periodicals online to find legal journal articles on specific topics. Social science journals will have also articles of interest. Many are in available print format at at your nearest undergraduate library and can also be located online via JSTOR, EBSCOHost, and PSYCHINFO (if you have access). Many mainstream magazines are available at your public library. Don’t forget that even if print journal versions are more mainstream, their respective databases might index or provide more scholarly articles. For a more detailed bibliography, see the Research Bibliography produced by the Standing Committee on Lesbian and Gay Issues of the Social Responsibilities SIS, AALL.

Adoption/Foster Care

Adoption rights for gays (either as couples or singularly) differs from state to state. These sites will help you.

Gay adoption – Wikipedia

Though as a rule I don’t like to cite to Wikipedia, I find a few of their categories very helpful as a starting point, especially in terms of knowing which countries allow rights. From there you can go to official country web sites.

Families Like Ours

Families Like Ours (FLO) is a national nonprofit providing adoption resources to pre-adoptive, post adoptive, foster families and adoption professionals. Families Like Ours supports all families wishing to adopt. While their emphasis is with Gay, and Lesbian adoptive families, they welcome the diversity of all families regardless family structure.

Gates, Gary J., Badgett, M.V. Lee, Macomber, Jennifer Ehrle, and Chambers, Kate.

“Adpoption and Foster care by Gay and Lesbian Parents in the United States.”

Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, March 2007

This very important 43-page article covers adoption from many aspects – information from the census, national adoption statistics, statistics on foster care by gays and lesbians, cost impacts of excluding gays and lesbians from adoption and foster care, among other items.

Human Rights Campaign – adoption state-by-state

This web page, from a reliable nation-wide organization, has great links to state statutes regarding the right of gays to adopt (singly or as partners).

Lambda Legal – Parenting Laws

You can click on any state in the map to see the latest on parenting laws, with links to landmark cases.

National Center for Lesbian Rights, “Adoption By Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Parents: An Overview of Current Law.” (Updated January 2004)

This article is very informative, though slightly dated. I especially like the bibliography.


Elovitz, Marc, and Schneider, Cynthia, eds. Legal Issues Facing the Contemporary Family. New York, Practising Law Institute, 1997, 480 p.
This is a course handbook accompanying the PLI program each time it is offered.

It often has re-printed articles from law reviews.


Elovitz, Marc E. “Adoption By Lesbian and Gay People: The Use and Misuse of Social Science Research.” Duke Journal of Gender Law and Policy 2 (Spring 1995): 207-225.

Mark Elovitz was staff counsel at the ACLU Gay Rights Project at the time of writing this article. Part I of this article describes the ways in which lesbian and gay people confront Adoption’s legal structures. Part II discusses the findings of social science Research on parenting by lesbian and gay people. Part III reviews and analyzes some of the responses to this research.

See general adoption books – both in general and those that cover the state in question. Most new books have a chapter or section on adoption by gays.



AIDS has unfortunately progressed a long way from the “gay disease”. Rather than list all organizations, I just am listing web sites that provide statistics, and books and periodicals related to the AIDS and the law.

American Bar Association AIDS Coordinating Committee

This committee has a great legal directory for people with HIV/AIDS and a publication on returning to work.

AIDS statistics

AVERT is an international AIDS charity

CDC AIDS statistics

The Center for Disease Control can be counted on for accuracy.

UN AIDS statistics


Abt, Clark C., and Hardy, K.M. AIDS and the Courts, Abt Books, 1990. This book gives great chapters on issues going on in the courts. I wish there was a more current edition.

AIDS and Public Policy Journal

This journal has scholarly articles covering state and federal programs – especially covering clinical practice.

AIDS Litigation Reporter, Andrews Publications

This is the only reporter containing just AIDS litigation – a must for researching cases on AIDS. Cases from all courts are including, including some trial documents.

AIDS Policy & Law

This semi-monthly newsletter covers legislation, regulation, and litigation concerning AIDS.

Jarvis, Robert M. AIDS Law In a Nutshell, West, 1996, 309 p.

As in any nutshell, this is a great place to start. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a new one printed since 1996, so some information will be out of date.

Jasper, Margaret C. AIDS Law. Oceana Publications, Dobbs Ferry, 2000, 261 p.

This monograph has great tables, even if old, with statistics on AIDS cases, state laws that require partner notification, and selected provisions of the ADA.

Mello, Jeffrey A. AIDS and the Law of Workplace Discrimination. Westview Press, 1995, 153 p.

This book gives a short but concise background on workplace discrimination, including protection in different stages of HIV infection.

Shilts, Randy. And The Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, Penguin Books, 1988, 640 p.

This is a Must-Read for anyone seriously studying the history of the AIDS epidemic from a political perspective.

Terl, Allan H. AIDS and the Law: A Basic Guide For the Nonlawyer. Washington, DC: Hemisphere Pub. Corp, 1992, 180 p.

Even though this book is 15 years old, I really like the lay language. Many of the same issues then are not resolved today.

Domestic Partnership

There has been a great deal of attention lately on domestic partnership law and same-sex marriage. Domestic partnership is a legal or personal relationship between individuals who live together and share a common domestic life but are not joined in a traditional marriage, a common-law marriage, or a civil union. Domestic partnership can relate to employee rights, medical rights, or trust and estate rights. This can vary by jurisdiction and private corporate policy. It also pertains to heterosexuals living together who aren’t married or in a civil union.

Census Bureau Same-Sex Couple Statistics

You can look at the official results by creating a custom table. Go to

Click on “custom table” on the right. Pick “state” in the drop-down, then “all states” Keep choosing categories until you get the table for male householder with male partner, female householder with female partner, and total householders with same-sex partners.

Human Rights Campaign Domestic Partnership & Employment page

You can find employers who offer domestic partnership benefits – private, state, county, city, and university

Human Rights Campaign Domestic Partnership & Family page

This site offers links to State, County, and City jurisdictions that offer domestic partnership registry.

Lambda Legal – Relationship Recognition

You can click on a state of interest to see relationship recognition in that state, with links to important cases.

Carnegie Mellon domestic partnership links

This important site provides a few reports by university study groups examining the costs and benefits of domestic partnership benefits.


Winfeld, Susan Spielman. Straight Talk About Gays in the Workplace, Harrington Park Press, 2001, 185 p.

I especially liked the chapters on myths and facts, designing sexual orientation education in the workplace, and domestic partner benefits. The book is written for the layperson – easy to understand.


Domestic Violence

Domestic violence among same-sex couples is a real phenomenon that is often ignored in scientific literature and by police departments. However, a growing concern among mental health professionals has brought the issue to the forefront.

Internationally, countries are seeing the need for legislation that includes same-sex couples. The Domestic Violence, Crimes & Victims Act, in the United Kingdom, received Royal assent in 2004. Among many things, it gave cohabiting same-sex couples the same access to non-molestation and occupation orders as opposite-sex couples.

Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project

This group, which provides a 24-hour hotline, also provides a great reading list.

Homicide of Intimates Statistics

These statistics are reliable, as they are provided by the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics. They include same-sex domestic violence.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

Though this hotline serves all who have faced domestic violence, they are equipped to handle same-sex issues.

National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Domestic Violence Map (2005)

This is a state-by-state map which shows the domestic violence laws for same-sex couples.

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Many publications referred to here will help also in same-sex domestic violence.

New York City Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project

This site is especially useful for their annual reports and bilingual hotline (Spanish-English)

List of groups that deal with same-sex domestic violence, with links

U.S. Department of Justice

The Office of Violence Against Women will have resources for battered women. Remember, too, that intimacy violence covers some of the issues in male-male domestic violence, even though there are unique factors to the latter.

Check Richter’s catalog for some good books, such as Same-Sex Domestic Strategy: Challenges for Change


Catalano, Shannan. “Intimate Partner Violence in the United States“. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2004.

This is an excellent report – statistics on intimate partners includes those of same-sex partners.

“Domestic Violence in Gay and Lesbian Relationships.” Available at

This article is informative on its own, but it also has a great bibliography.

AARDVARC.ORG, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to combating family and relationship violence, sexual violence and child abuse.

Girshack, Lori B. Woman-To-Woman Sexual Violence: Does She Call It Rape? Northeastern University Press, 2002, 201p.

Like the Renzetti book (see below), this book covers social/psychological issues. But it is unique in that it has a chapter entitled “Heterosexism in the Legal System,” which touches upon police, judge, and jury homophobia. The notes (such as to states which exclude homosexuals from domestic violence statutes) and bibliography are worth the price alone.

Lehman, Christine. “Domestic Violence Overlooked in Same-Sex Couples.” of Social Science Research.” Psychiatric News (No. 12, June 21):22. Online at

Renzetti, Claire. Violent Betrayal: Partner Abuse in Lesbian Relationships. Sage Publications, 1992, 202 p.

There is so little written specifically on domestic violence in lesbian relationships, that this is a goldmine. The bibliography itself is excellent, but it is more related to social services than law.

Vicker, Lee. “The Second Closet: Domestic Violence in Lesbian and Gay Relationships: A Western Australian Perspective.” Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law 3 (Number 4, December 1996), available at

Estate Planning

It is VERY important for gays in relationships to have wills and powers-of-attorney forms filled out, if they want their domestic partner to have legal rights for inheritance and medical decisions. Since gays in relationships are not “married” legally, except in Massachusetts, their partners don’t automatically have those rights (those some registered as “domestic partners” have some or all of those rights – see “Domestic Partnership” and research the state in question.


Burda, Joan M. Estate Planning For Same-Sex Couples. ABA, 2004, 199 p.

This is a must-have book for estate courses and for the public. Though short, it is concise in explaining the needs of gay clients. It also includes a cd with forms.

See general form books for estate planning, power-of-attorney, medical forms – such as “do not resuscitate”…

Gay Attorneys

American Bar Association, Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The purpose of this committee is to “work to protect and advance the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) persons by educating the legal profession, by developing, implementing and disseminating policies supporting equal justice under law without regard to one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and by filing amicus curiae briefs.”

National Lesbian and Gay Law Association (NLGLA) –

This organization began in 1987 and in 1992 became an affiliate of the American Bar Association and now works closely with the ABA’s Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities and its Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

Gays Rights

American Psychological Association amicus briefs on gay issues

Human Rights Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality.

Lambda Legal

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Founded in 1973, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s mission is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. They do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and building the organizational capacity of the movement.

People For the American Way

People For the American Way was founded in 1981 by Norman Lear, Barbara Jordan, Father Theodore Hesburgh, and Andrew Heiskell. It’s goal is to affirm individuality, freedom of thought, expression and religion, a sense of community, and tolerance and compassion for others.

Wikipedia – see external links

This is quite good, even though it is not “official”. Use it for basic facts and web sites, but don’t forget to verify authenticity.


Button, James W., Rienzo, Barbara A., and Wald, Kenneth D. Private Lives, Public Conflicts: Battles Over Gay Rights in American Communities, CQ Press, 1997, 223 p.

With a foreward by Barney Frank, this short book has many chapters that touch upon gay rights. I especially like the chapter on schools and gay youth, in which the authors address why there is a need to address sexual orientation issues in schools.

Coles, Matthew. Try This At Home: A Do-It-Yourself Guide To Winning Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights Policy, New Press, 1996, 308 p.

Duberman, Martin. Stonewall, Penguin Books, 1993, 330 p.

Stonewall is a determining point in gay history, a symbolic point in 1969 in which gays became more politically active. Those not familiar with those events should read this book.

Hunter, Nan, Joslin, Courtney, and McGowan, Sharon. The Rights of Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexuals, and Transgender People, Southern Illinois University Press, 2004, 218 p.

This is part of the ACLU Handbook series and deals with sexual orientation and the state, civil rights in the private sector, families and schools, and specialized issues such as transgendered people and HIV.

Law & Sexuality, by Tulane University School of Law students

Edited by the students at Tulane University School of Law, this journal provides articles and case notes about lesbian, gay, bisexu7al, and transgender legal issues.

Marcus, Eric. Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights, 1945-1990, HarperCollins, 1992, 532 p.

This important well-known book is organized by decade – within each decade, major people are discussed, in relationship to their struggle within the Gay Rights movement.

Newton, David E. Gay and Lesbian Rights: A Reference Handbook, ABC-CLIO, 1994, 214 p.

This book is organized very well, with a chronology, biographical section of leaders in the Gay Rights movement, summary of major court decisions (up until 1994), and a list of organizations.

Pinello, Daniel R. Gay Rights and American Law, Cambridge University Press, 2003, 349p.

This is an excellent book. The case narratives section contains cases from both state and federal courts. The appendixes are fantastic – lists of cases are presented by subject (cases are only through the year 2000, however)

Vaid, Urvashi, Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation, Anchor Books, 1995, 440 p.

Ms. Vaid was the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force from the late 1980s until the early 1990s. With her political background, and virtually unlimited access to movers and shakers in the field, she is able to provide an encompassing look at the political movement from many angles.

Walzer, Gay Rights on Trial: A Reference Handbook, ABC-CLIO, 2002, 323p.

The major U.S. Supreme Court cases dealing with homosexuality are summarized.

Hate Crimes

Enacted in 1990, Pub. L. 101-275, the Hate Crimes Statistics Act (HCSA) requires the Justice Department to acquire data on crimes which “manifest prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity” from law enforcement agencies across the country and to publish an annual summary of the findings.

Bureau of Justice Statistics, Hate Crimes Report (2005)

This report provides information on the number of hate crimes reported to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) and their characteristics. This BJS Special Report uses data from victims’ reports to the NCVS from July 2000 through December 2003 and from police reports to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR) in 2002 to describe characteristics of hate crimes. Information is provided on the motivations for hate crime as perceived by victims, the types of crimes which victims thought were hate-related, reasons for reporting or not reporting hate crimes to police, police response to victim’s notification of a crime, the time and place at which hate crimes occurred and offenders’ gender, race, age, relationship to the victim, use of weapons, and gang membership. Sexual orientation was behind hate crimes motivation about 18% of the time.

FBI Hate Crime Statistics (latest is 2005)

This is an even more detailed report. You’ll find that in 2005, of the 1,213 victims targeted due to a sexual-orientation bias, 61.3 percent were victims of an anti-male homosexual bias, 19.2 percent were victims of an anti-homosexual bias, 15.3 percent were victims of an anti-female homosexual bias, 2.3 percent were victims of an anti-bisexual bias, and 1.9 percent were victims of an anti-heterosexual bias.

Human Rights Campaign Hate Crimes Page

Besides links to legislation affecting hate crimes, there is a link to the report A Decade of Violence: Anti-Gay Hate Crimes from 1999-2000. This report has data collected by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

National Gay & Lesbian Task Force hate crimes page

This web page has links to a timeline and historical explanation of what NGLTF has done on the issue, as well as a link to a map detailing current standing on hate-crimes legislation in each state.


Altschiller, Donald. Hate Crimes: A Reference Handbook, ABC-CLIO, 2005, 247 p.

This book, written by a university librarian, has not only a good chapter that includes hate crimes against gays and lesbians, but has the bibliography and directory of organizations that you could only expect from a librarian.

Hate Crimes Law, West, 2006, 635 p.

This comprehensive book, which comes out each year, provides an overview of crimes under federal law (including the Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990), an overview of state hate crime statutes, sentencing guidelines, and a great bibliography.

Jenness, Valerie, and Grattet, Ryken. Making Hate a Crime: From Social Movement To Law Enforcement, Russell Sage Foundation, 2001, 219 p.

One especially good chapter in this book, which is part of the American Sociological Association’s series on Sociology, is that on the emergence of the anti-hate crime movement.

Journal of Hate Studies, by Gonzaga University, Institute for Action Against Hate.

This journal covers aspects of hate crimes from many dimensions.

Lawrence, Frederick M. Punishing Hate, Harvard University Press, 1999, 269 p.

Though this book is a little out of date, there are some good chapters on explaining hate bias and why it should be punished.

Perry, Barbara. In the Name of Hate, Routledge, 2001, 276 p.

This book has a good chapter on hate against gays, as well as a comprehensive table. One other good chapter defines hate crime and talks about ways to measure it.


In the United States, until 1990, U.S. immigration law authorized the exclusion of gay people. Today, an individual cannot legally be denied entry to the U.S. on the basis of sexual orientation. The Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 prohibits federal recognition of same sex couples. Therefore, gay binational couples are not recognized for immigration purposes. However, in 16 countries throughout the world, the foreign partner in these binational relationships can be granted citizenship in the residing country- just as in heterosexual relationships. Gays can still be denied entrance if they are HIV-positive. And since homosexual acts are illegal in many countries, gays can be denied entrance for “crimes for which they have not been arrested.” Gay Immigration Page

This site explains, among other things, that 6% of the 594,000 same-sex couples in the 2000 census are comprised of one citizen and one non-citizen.

Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders immigration page

This organization is based in New England. This page is straight-forward and answers hypothetical questions as they would be posed by the public.

Immigration Equality – advocates for immigration equality for gays/lesbians

Immigration Equality is a national organization fighting for equality under U.S. immigration law for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and HIV-positive individuals. They run a pro bono asylum project to assist LGBT and HIV-positive asylum seekers to find free or low-cost legal representation. Immigration Equality also maintains a list of LGBT/HIV-friendly private immigration attorneys to provide legal representation for those who contact us. We also provide technical assistance to attorneys who are working on sexual orientation, transgender identity, or HIV status-based asylum applications, or other immigration applications where the client’s LGBT or HIV-positive identity is at issue in the case.


Epps, Brad, Valens, Keja, and Gonzalez, Bill Johnson. Passing Lines: Sexuality and Immigration, Harvard University Press, 2005, 484 p.

A few of the chapters that deal with gay/lesbian issues are “Gay Enough: Some Tensions in Seeking the Grant of Asylum and Protecting Global Sexual Diversity”, “Intimate Conduct, Public Practice, and the Bounds of Citizenship in the Wake of Lawrence v. Texas, “Gay Asylum Seekers in Canada”, and “Cultures of the Puerto Rican Queer Diaspara”. Because the book was published in 2005, the chapters are relevant and interesting.

Immigration Equality, LGBT/HIV Asylum Manual

This manual is concise and very helpful, especially for pro bono attorneys.

Long, Scott, Stern, Jessica, and Francoeur, Adam. Family Unvalued: Discrimination, Denial, and the Fate of Binational Same-Sex Couples Under U.S. Law. Human Rights Watch, 2006, 181 p.

The personal stories in this report show the human side of relationships that are stressed and torn apart by current U.S. immigration policy. It is also online at

Luibheid, Eithne, and Cantu, Lionel, Jr., eds. Queer Migrations: Sexuality, U.S. Citizenship, and Border Crossings.

This book includes papers presented at two different conferences in 2002. Most papers deal with immigration issues of concern to Hispanics. Two interesting papers are about gay immigrants from Mexico and the Cuban American gay male experience.

Rank, Lorrie. “Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Immigration Process.” Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice 14 (No. 4): 373-377.

I really like this article. It is 5 years old but really relevant.

International Issues

American Psychological Association statements that support international human rights for gays/lesbians

The APA has consistently been supportive of gay rights. These online statements are from 2003 and 2004.

Belgium Gay marriage legalized

This is a good summary of this history of gay marriage in Belgium. The statement itself is only in French and Flemish.

Canada Egale – gay rights organization of Canada

Egale Canada is a national organization that advances equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-identified people and their families across Canada.

Legislative History of Gay Marriage Act of Canada

Text of C-38 (legalizing gay marriage in Canada)

Canadian Immigration for Same-Sex Partners

LEGIT, the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Taskforce, was founded in December 1991 in Vancouver, Canada by a group of Canadian lesbians and gay men along with their partners who did not have immigrant status in Canada. LEGIT provides immigration information and support to queer, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people while working to end discrimination in Canada’s immigration regulations.

International Gay and Lesbian Association (IGLA)

The International Lesbian and Gay Association is a world-wide network of national and local groups dedicated to achieving equal rightsfor lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people everywhere. You can click on a region of the world and read the latest on what’s going on in a specific country.

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has an asylum page in which they talk about their work to get political immigrants asylum based on political persecution of gays. Their fact-sheets are excellent summaries on international issues related to gays.

Netherlands –

Good starting point for general background information.

Gay marriage law text

South Africa –

Good starting point for general background information.

Text of Civil Union law

Spain –

Good starting point for general background information.

Gay Marriage Text (in Spanish) summary

UN Commission on Human Rights

Wikipedia gay rights by Country

Wikipedia same-sex marriage

Same-sex marriages are currently performed in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, and South Africa. Foreign same-sex marriage is recognized in Israel, Aruba, and the Netherland Antilles.


Australian Gay & Lesbian Law Journal – online through Hein Online

Beger, Nicole J. Tensions in the Struggle For Sexual Minority Rights in Europe: Querying Political Practices, Manchester University Press, 2004, 252 p.

I find this book stale – but if it is one of the few on the topic in your library, it is worth a skim.

Rosenbloom, Rachel, ed. Unspoken Rules: Sexual Orientation and Women’s Human Rights, Cassell, 1996, 257 p.

I really like the personal way that comparisons are made in individual country reports. It is not too scholarly, but gives a good background.

Tatchell, Peter. Europe in the Pink: Lesbian & Gay Equality in the New Europe, GMP, 1992, 158 p.

This book, though a little dated, concentrates on the EC. I especially liked the chapter that discusses the need for an EC Bill of Rights, Anti-Discrimination Directive, and Equal Opportunity Executive.

West, Donald J., and Green, Richard, eds. Sociolegal Control of Homosexuality: A Multi-Nation Comparison, Plenum Press, 1997, 354 p.

This is an excellent monograph that compares countries around the world on various aspects of how they treat homosexuality – in the past, sociologically, and in the law.

Winemute, Robert. Sexual Orientation and Human Rights: The United States Constitution, the European Convention, and the Canadian Charter, Oxford University Press, 1995, 292 p.

Mr. Winemute discusses sexual orientation discrimination under the framework of all 3 legal frameworks. Appendix 2 is very helpful – it lists constitutions and legislation around the world that expressly prohibit sexual orientation discrimination (as of 1995)

Wolfenden Report: Report of the Committee on Homosexual Offenses and Prostitution, 1963, Stein and Day, 243 p.

This re-print of the original 1957 report, the introduction alone, by Karl Menninger, is scary. It’s an interesting piece of history.


Human Rights Campaign Congressional Scorecard (rates Congress on how they voted on gay rights issues for a specific Congress)

Every year the Human Rights Campaign rates Congresspeople according to how they vote for legislation favorable to gays and lesbians.


American Psychological Association amicus briefs on gay issues

APA briefs on major cases (mostly U.S. Supreme Court or various state supreme courts) going back to 1983 are available in pdf format.


Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is dedicated to promoting and ensuring fair, accurate and inclusive representation of people and events in the media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. They keep track of events in the media that require a collective response and rate shows and stars for their positive portrayal of gays through an annual awards ceremony called the GLAAD Media Awards.

A good source of news of national interest.

Gay Media database

This is a great directory – especially the links to national publications and gay magazines.


Advocate (print and online)

A great source of news – has been around for a long time.

Gross, Larry, and Woods, James D., eds. Columbia Reader on Lesbians & Gay Men in Media, Society, & Politics. Columbia University Press, 1999, 660 p.

Chapter 3 is about mainstream media – there are interesting chapters on how gays have been treated by mainstream media, including stereotyping, the gay kiss, the response by the media to AIDS, and outing.

Chapter 4 is about lesbian and gay media and brings up interesting topics such as gay TV and gay pornography,

Johnson, Keith. Queer Airwaves. M.E. Sharpe, 2001, 298 p.

An interesting book for background on gay radio and tv.

Out (print and online)

Thise magazine have been around for a long time – news, entertainment…

Signorile, Michaelangelo. Queer In America: Sex, the Media, and the Closets of Power,

Washington Blade

This is the online version of the weekly print version that comes out in Washington, DC.

The national coverage of gay issues is teriffic.

Many magazines come and go – though some, like Out Weekly, keep their archived issues on the Internet. Check your local libraries too.

Mental Health Law

Mental health issues for gays/lesbians/transgendered are different than those for the general population. When sexual orientation comes up, therapists who are religiously affiliated treat their “patients” differently. Reparation therapy (conversion therapy) is an issue that is being debated. For general mental health issues, not related to law (such as counseling), see books in Richter and Richter databases such as PSYCHINFO (for journal articles).

American Psychological Association policy statement on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation

This statement came out in 1997 and covers many topics related to sexual orientation – nondiscrimination towards gay clients, coercive treatment of youth, not portraying gays as “mentally ill”…

American Psychiatric Association statement on reparative therapy

Reparative Therapy is the process by which pastors or mental health practitioners attempt to change a person’s sexual preference from homosexual to heterosexual.

History of American Psychiatric Association’s deletion of homosexuality from the DSM in 1973


Blumenfeld, Warren J. Homophobia: How we All Pay the Price, Beacon Press, 1992, 308 p.

An interesting chapter deals with how homophobia can lead to suicide among gays, especially youth.

Mental Health Law Reporter, Business Publishers Inc.

This monthly reporter covers all cases related to mental health, and as such, includes issues related to gays.

Be sure to look at mental health law treatises in your library, as the law will apply to gays, or there might be a chapter on gays, even if it isn’t part of the title. General books on gays and mental health will be in your undergraduate/graduate library or public library using keywords “gay” and “mental health”.


The U.S. Military has a long official history of discrimination against gays and lesbians (though in times of war these restrictions are often lessened or ignored). The restrictions are codified differently by each branch of the Armed Services.

Able v. US (first case to challenge “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”)

In this civil case from the Eastern District of New York, 880 F. Supp. 968 (1995). Six members of the Armed Services brought suit. The Court ruled that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is unconstitutional. It was later reversed in the court of Appeals, 155 F.3d 628.

American Psychological Association web page on Gays & Military
Policy statements, task force reports, and briefs of the APA related to gays in the military are neatly arranged on one page.

American Veterans for Equal Justice

The American Veterans for Equal Justice are concerned with the treatment of all veterans. As such, they are concerned about re-enlistment of gays, and treatment of gays while in the Armed Services. They have excellent news coverage on specific cases.

Homosexual Exclusion Law (10 USC 654)

This is the section of the US Code you want to examine.

President Clinton’s 1993 statement on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Publications from the Palm Center – UC Santa Barbara
The Palm Center, formerly the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, has many excellent reports on gays in the military. They are part of the Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Service Members Legal Defense Fund

SLDN is a national, non-profit legal services, watchdog and policy organization dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and related forms of intolerance.

A copy of the Commandant of the Marine Corp’s orders concerning don’t ask, don’t tell

This came out in 1993.


Dyer, Kate, ed. Gays In Uniform: The Pentagon’s Secret Reports, Alyson Publications, 1990, 135 p.

The PERSEREC report, suppressed by George H. Bush, stated that gays were not a high security risk for military service.

Halley, Janet E. “The Status/Conduct Distinction in the 1993 Revisions to Military Anti-Gay Policy.” GLQ 3: 159-252.

This article, written in 1996, tries to use “legal archaeology” to explain the difference between “status” and “conduct”, when it comes to explaining the 1993 “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Homosexuality and the Military: A Sourcebook of Official, Uncensored U.S. Government Documents, DIANE Publishing Co, 1993.

Included here are DOD’s Policy on Homosexuality (GAO, 1992), Crittenden Report (Report to the Navy, 1957), Homosexuality and Personnel Security (PERSEREC report, 1991), and the Report to the Human Rights Campaign Fund on Public Attitudes Toward Homosexuals and Their Place in the Military (1991)

Sexual Orientation and U.S. Military Personnel Policy: Options and Assessment, National Defense Research Institute, 1993, 518 p.

This report was based on a study undertaken by RAND’s National Defense Research Institute at the request of then-Secretary-of-Defense Les Aspen. Mr. Aspen was directed to submit a draft of an executive order “ending discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the Armed Forces,” and this material would be useful to him in formulating the Executive Order (which never was signed).

Shilts, Randy. Conduct Unbecoming: Lesbians and Gays in the U.S. Military: Vietnam to the Persian Gulf, St. Martin’s Press, 1993, 784 p.

This landmark publication really can’t be surpassed, other than that it can be updated, which I’m sure he would have done if not for his premature death in 1994.

U.S. Department of Defense, Summary Report of the Military Working Group, 1993.

This is the report that came out from DOD in response to the President directing the Secretary of Defense to develop a policy “ending discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in determing who may serve in the Armed Forces of the United States.”

Wells-Petry, Melissa. Exclusion: Homosexuals and the Right to Serve, Regnery Gateway, 1993, 237 p.

This book, published by a conservative publisher, will give you an idea of the viewpoint therein – gays should continue to be kept from military service.

Wolinsky, Marc, and Sherrill, Kenneth, eds. Gays and the Military, Princeton University, 1993, 222 p.

This book contains the most significant portions of the court record from the case Joseph C. Steffan v. Richard Cheney, Steffan was forced to resign from the United States Naval Academy six weeks before he was to graduate because he admitted he was a homosexual.

The Steffan papers are at the University of Connecticut School of Law archives


National Gay and Lesbian Task Force map of non-discrimination laws in the U.S. (April 2007)

President Clinton’s non-discrimination executive order for federal employees.

See the two amendment executive orders (1998 and 2000) signed by Clinton and adding “sexual orientation”.

Parenthood Rights

ACLU gay parenting page

Publications, press releases, and legal documents are linked to from this web page.

Gay Parenting, American Psychological Association web page on gay parenting

This report, by the APA, touches on many aspects of gay parenting, mostly from a psychological standpoint. The bibliography is excellent!


Glazer, Deborah F., and Drescher, eds. Jack. Gay and Lesbian Parenting, Haworth Press, 2001, 150 p.

Most chapters are written by mental health therapists.

Johnson, Suzanne M., and O’Connor, Elizabeth. The Gay Baby Boom: The Psychology of Gay Parenthood, New York University Press, 2002, 193 p.

For non-gays, especially, this will help give you a perspective of parenthood from a gay perspective.

Lewin, Ellen. Lesbian Mothers: Accounts of Gender in American Culture, 1993, Cornell University, 233 p.

Although this doesn’t go into the legalities, it will give the reader a perspective first-hand.

Mallon, Gerald P. Gay Men Choosing Parenthood, Columbia University Press, 2004, 177 p.

Dr. Mallon is associate professor and executive director of the National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning at Hunter College School of Social Work. His perspective, from his job and as a gay dad, is invaluable.



Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, & Queer Culture – great section on history and biography


Sexual Orientation and the Law: A Research Bibliography Selectively Annotating Legal Literature Through 2005, Standing Committee on Lesbian and Gay Issues, Social Responsibilities Special Interest Section, American Association of Law Libraries, 2006, 426.

Same-Sex Marriage/Civil Unions

Same-Sex marriage is an issue separate from domestic partnership. It includes recognition by the state, as well

ACLU Lesbian/Gay Marriage page

Press releases, legal documents, and publications are linked to from here.

Alliance for Marriage – supporters of an amendment to US Constitution that allows only marriage between a man and a woman

Applying for a Marriage License in Massachusetts

From all the information you would need is here.

American Psychological Association policy statement on same-sex marriage

Freedom to Marry

Headed by Evan Wolfson, Freedom to Marry is an organization working to win marriage equality nationwide. Spanish translations and podcasts make this site very helpful.

Gay Marriage Ban Initiatives – 2004

Historically, this is of interest because it shows the various initiatives in the 2004 election.

Lambda Legal Marriage Issues

Lambda Legal is a “national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work”. This page

Massachusetts Law about Same Sex Marriage

This page, from the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Library, links to the Goodridge case, Massachusetts law, and other great resources.

National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Marriage/Partner page (with links to reports and maps)

NGLTF has its own page, with news, their advocacy, and reports.

Rutgers Law Library Research Guide

Rutgers has put together a fantastic research guide on same-sex marriage.

50-State Rundown on Gay Marriage Law

This 50-state survey is from Election Day, 2004. It would be nice if they did this annually!


Right now Massachusetts is the only state performing legal same-sex marriage.



Search your catalog using the following subject searches – same sex marriage – law and legislation – United States; same-sex marriage – United States; gay rights – United States; gay couples – legal status – United States; gays- legal status – United States. Books in the Law Library include:

Boswell, John. Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, Random House, 1994, 412 p.

Written by acclaimed gay historian John Boswell, this book tackled same-sex unions from an historical perspective. Good background information for those involved in same-sex union activism.

Bernstein, Mary, and Reimann, Renate, eds. Queer Families, Queer Politics: Challenging Culture and the State, Columbia University Press, 2001, 461 p.

Several chapters in this book pertain to gay marriage, such as grass roots organizing and the legal consequences of marriage (great references in back),

Cantor, Donald, Cantor, Elizabeth, Black, James C., and Barrett, Campbell D. Same-Sex Marriage: The Legal and Psychological Evolution in America, Wesleyan University Press, 2006, 191 p.

Written by lawyers and mental health professionals, this book covers a few aspects of same-sex marriage (as well as adoption and parenthood). Not thorough but a brief overview for a starting point.

Eskridge, William N. The Case for Same-Sex Marriage: From Sexual Liberty to Civilized Commitment, Free Press, 1996, 296 p.

I especially like the Appendix that contains letters collected by the plaintiffs in the gay marriage case Dean v. District of Columbia, from 1990.

Hull, Kathleen E. Same-Sex Marriage: The Cultural Politics of Love and Law, Cambridge University Press, 2006, 277 p.

Professor Hull, from the University of Minnesota, used study participants from many backgrounds in formulating her results in book form.

Mello, Michael. Legalizing Gay Marriage, Temple University Press, 2004, 337 p.

Because Michael Mello is a professor of law at Vermont Law School, he was especially qualified to write about the same-sex legal marriage battle in Vermont.

Same Sex Marriage- Developments in the Law, Nolo Press.

Sherman, Suzanne, ed. Lesbian and Gay Marriage: Private Commitments, Public Ceremonies, Temple University Press, 1992, 288p.

The most interesting part of the book is the 200+ pages about all the various couples that have committed to each other – a very human side that shows the diversity in gay/lesbian couples.

Sprigg, Peter. Outrage: How Gay Activists and Liberal Judges are Trashing Democracy to Redefine Marriage, Family Research Council, 2004, 164 p.

A must-read to understand the religious-right view of gay marriage. The notes are useful for finding the same viewpoints in journals, reports, and newspapers.

Wardle, Lynn D., Strasser, Mark, Duncan, William C., and Coolidge, David Orgon. Marriage and Same-Sex Unions: A Debate, Praeger, 2003, 396 p.

The great thing about all the essays contained therein is the opposing views. All are written by prominent people, and putting responses right after an essay gives one an immediate counter viewpoint.

* There are many more books – some you might like just because you recognize the author and some because of the specific viewpoint.

Scientific Research

There are several books and studies about the use of scientific research on issues related to gays, including genetic v. environmental factors in the creation of a gay identity. Another area of study and controversy is “reparative therapy” (changing someone’s identity from homosexual to heterosexual). One other source is Google Scholar or Google.

A medical source for gay/lesbian health care and issues related to psychiatric care is PUBMED


LeVay, Simon. Queer Science: The Use and Abuse of Research Into Homosexuality, MIT Press, 1996, 364 p.

Mr. LeVay reported on the differences in brain structure between heterosexual and homosexual men when he was at the Salk Institute.

This is a fascinating book that covers the history of scientific inquiry into homosexuality.

Murphy, Timothy F. Gay Science: The Ethics of Sexual Orientation Research, Columbia University Press, 1997, 268 p.

Murphy (medical humanities, Univ. of Illinois) offers an ethical overview and analysis of the current state of sexual orientation research from his perspective as a “philosopher of medicine”.

Work Issues

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would extend federal employment discrimination protections that are currently provided on race, religion, gender, national origin, age, and disability to cover sexual orientation and gender identity. Currently, it is legal to fire someone based on their sexual orientation in 33 states, and it is legal to do so based on gender identity or expression in 42 states. If ENDA is passed, any American who thinks s/he has been discriminated against because of his/her perceived sexual orientation or gender identity will be able to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). ENDA narrowly failed (by one vote) in 1996 and was introduced in 2007 as HR 2015.

American Bar Association Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Page

They have the CLE program for “Representing Transgendered Clients in Employment Discrimination Cases”

American Psychological Association web page on ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act)

The APA looks at arguments both for and against ENDA, and then uses social science research to provide their own view.

ENDA prospects in 2007

An interesting historical look at where ENDA stood in Jan. 2007 and what had led to that point.

Lambda Legal – Employment Protections

You can click on a state of interest to see employment protections in that state, with links to important cases.

PFLAG page on ENDA

PFLAG keeps up with ENDA legislation by telling you where the legislation is at, who has sponsored, and how to get involved.


BNA’s Employment Discrimination Reports

Enter through UM’s databases BNA-all at

Also in Westlaw in file BNA-EDR

This looseleaf reporter has a separate section on gay/lesbian discrimination.

Diamant, Louis, ed. Homosexual Issues in the Workplace, Taylor & Francis, 1993, 268 p.

This book covers many areas – career development; hiring, firing and promoting; gays in the Church; lesbian and gay issues in Education; AIDS; special problems of older gay employees; and the academic workplace. I found some of the information grossly out-of-date, even though published in the 1990’s.

Nugent, Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation, W.S. Hein, 1998, 68 p.

This legal research guide will give you leads for electronic and paper resources.

Rust, Mark E. Perspectives on Returning to Work: Changing Legal Issues and the HIV/AIDS Epidemic, 2000, ABA AIDS Coordinating Committee, 48 p.

All aspects involved of someone returning to work with HIV/AIDS are covered in this informative booklet. Most aspects are still relevant, even though it is 7 years old.

Winfeld, Susan Spielman. Straight Talk About Gays in the Workplace, Harrington Park Press, 2001, 185 p.

I especially liked the chapters on myths and facts, designing sexual orientation education in the workplace, and domestic partner benefits. The book is written for the layperson – easy to understand.

Youth: This guide is attempting to limit discussion to that are affected by law. You will find a number of organizations that work with gay youth and educate the public about the high level of suicide among gay youth and their special needs (e-mail me for a list of resources). The law does gets involved, however, when it comes to the exposure of kids in schools to education about alternative lifestyles and their exposure to resources that serve gay teens. That translates to how law affects which books kids are exposed to in libraries, how and if gays and lesbians are discussed in class, and if gay teens are allowed to have their own school-endorsed social groups.

Advocates for Youth – the National Coalition to Support Sexuality Education

The National Coalition to Support Sexuality Education consists of over 140 national, nonprofit organizations and associations that are role models in promoting health, education, and the social concerns of American youth. Most advocates for gay youth feel that teen suicide and homophobia would decrease if students were made aware of diversity as part of a school program.

Harvey Milk School (school for self-identified gay youth)

The Harvey Milk School is one of the few (and first) school for openly gay teens. It is felt that for high-risk gay teens, a safe environment will keep them in school and mentally healthy.

Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL)

The Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL) is the only Washington, DC metro area service organization solely dedicated to supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. It was founded in 1984.

Statistics on Gay Youth

These are statistics from the Hetrick-Martin Institute.


Button, James W., Rienzo, Barbara A., and Wald, Kenneth D. Private Lives, Public Conflicts: Battles Over Gay Rights in American Communities, CQ Press, 1997, 223 p.

With a foreward by Barney Frank, this short book has many chapters that touch upon gay rights. I especially like the chapter on schools and gay youth, in which the authors address why there is a need to address sexual orientation issues in schools.

Savin-Williams, Ritch C. The New Gay Teenager, Harvard University Press, 2005, 272 p.

Many topics are covered about what self-identified gay teenagers deal with – the book for the most part deals with mental health issues.

Electronic Resources


BNA Employment Discrimination Report (file BNA-EDR)

Gay & Lesbian Review (file GAYLESREV)

Advocate (file ADNATLGALN)

Journal of Homosexuality (file JOHOMOSABS)

Law & Sexuality: A Review of Lesbian & Gay Legal Issues (file LSEX)

Posted in: Features