A Tourist in Heteroland: Law, Legal Institutions, and Heteronormativity

By Todd Brower.

Published by The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations: Annual Review

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: June 30, 2015 $US5.00

Law and legal establishments, as norm creators and enforcers (McAdams and Rasmussen 2007), magnify and protect heteronormativity. Per Weeks (1998), sexual citizenship encompasses enfranchisement, inclusion, and belonging. Concomitantly when infused with heteronormativity, legal doctrine can push sexual minorities to the margins. Conversely, when law and its institutions include LGBT people, they may reveal the hidden assumptions underlying heteronormativity, and potentially transform societal norms and conventions. More negatively, however, inclusion can also provoke a counterattack and claim of oppression by those who wish to prevent the loss of heterosexual privilege. By examining four different instances of sexual minorities’ interactions with law and heteronormativity we can see examples of exclusion, loss of agency, backlash, and transformation.Law and legal establishments, as norm creators and enforcers (McAdams and Rasmussen 2007), magnify and protect heteronormativity. Per Weeks (1998), sexual citizenship encompasses enfranchisement, inclusion, and belonging. Concomitantly when infused with heteronormativity, legal doctrine can push sexual minorities to the margins. Conversely, when law and its institutions include LGBT people, they may reveal the hidden assumptions underlying heteronormativity, and potentially transform societal norms and conventions. More negatively, however, inclusion can also provoke a counterattack and claim of oppression by those who wish to prevent the loss of heterosexual privilege. By examining four different instances of sexual minorities’ interactions with law and heteronormativity we can see examples of exclusion, loss of agency, backlash, and transformation.

Keywords: Sexual Orientation, Heteronormativity, Law, Norm Creation, Norm Modification,, Legal Institutions, Gay, Lesbian

The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations: Annual Review, Volume 14, 2014, pp.27-38. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 30, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 568.480KB)).

Prof. Todd Brower

Professor of Law, Law, Western State University College of Law, Williams Institute-UCLA School of Law, Fullerton, California, USA

Todd Brower is a professor of Constitutional Law at Western State College of Law in Fullerton, California (USA). He is the Judicial Education Director for the Charles R. Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the University of California – Los Angeles School of Law (USA). He has an LL.M from Yale Law School, a J.D. from Stanford Law School, an A.B. from Princeton University, and was a Fulbright scholar in France. Professor Brower served on the California Judicial Council - Access and Fairness Advisory Committee, and was an academic visitor at the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, University of London. He is the author of various book chapters, law review articles, research studies and publications on the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons in the courts of the United Kingdom, California and New Jersey, and has presented at academic conferences all over the world. He has worked with the governments of Serbia and Montenegro and the courts of many U.S. states on judicial education programs and with the American Bar Association, the National Judicial College, the National Association of State Judicial Educators, the National Association of Women Judges, the National Center for Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the California Center for Judicial Education and Research.