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Copyright (c) 1994 Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey
Rutgers Law Review

AVOIDING THE PERSONAL PRONOUN: THE RHETORIC OF DISPLAY AND CAMOUFLAGE IN THE LAW OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION

Mondays come questions of couples

Where and with whom did you go?

Avoiding the personal pronoun

She hopes it doesn't show. 1  

Spring, 1994

Rutgers Law Review

46 Rutgers L. Rev. 1313

Author

Kenneth L. Schneyer *

Excerpt




Questions of sexual orientation have reached an unprecedented prominence in public debate. Ethical, political, and legal questions concerning the participation of gay men, lesbians, and bisexual people in the military, 2 the status of sexual
orientation in public education, 3 the rights of gay, lesbian, and bisexual groups to participate in public events, 4 legislation forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation 5 and referenda forbidding anti-discrimination legislation 6 appear in all media. At the same time, a growing body of scholarly work in the fields of lesbian, gay, and "queer" theory has challenged the cultural meanings and definitions of sexuality itself. 7 In
constitutional law, the application of the equal protection clause to non-heterosexuals has occupied a number of federal and state courts, both before and after the watershed substantive due process case, Bowers v. Hardwick. 8

These political, theoretical, and legal debates have, in many ways, been dominated by the concept of "the closet." That those in contemporary American society who are not strictly heterosexual are inclined or forced to dissemble concerning their sexuality seems to be among the most important facts differentiating this cultural discourse from others. Again and again, those who talk about sexuality are drawn to questions of "display," "discretion," "flaunting," or "hiding." In the legal arena, courts have frequently looked to the openness of a person's sexuality as part of assessing her rights, sometimes with surprising results. 9

The question of the closet has particularly serious ramifica ...
 
 
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