Date of Completion

Spring 5-9-2010

Thesis Advisor(s)

Charles R. Venator Santiago

Honors Major

Political Science

Disciplines

American Politics | Family, Life Course, and Society | Gender and Sexuality | Legal Studies | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Political Science | Race and Ethnicity | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

This thesis explores how LGBT marriage activists and lawyers have employed a racial interpretation of due process and equal protection in recent same-sex marriage litigation. Special attention is paid to the Supreme Court's opinion in Loving v. Virginia, the landmark case that declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional. By exploring the use of racial precedent in same-sex marriage litigation and its treatment in state court cases, this thesis critiques the racial interpretation of due process and equal protection that became the basis for LGBT marriage briefs and litigation, and attempts to answer the question of whether a racial interpretation of due process and equal protection is an appropriate model for same-sex marriage litigation both constitutionally and strategically.

The existing scholarly literature fails to explore how this issue has been treated in case briefs, which are very important elements in any legal proceeding. I will argue that through an analysis of recent state court briefs in Massachusetts and Connecticut, Loving acts as logical precedent for the legalization of same-sex marriage. I also find, more significantly, that although this racial interpretation of due process and equal protection represented by Loving can be seen as an appropriate model for same-sex marriage litigation constitutionally, questions remain about its strategic effectiveness, as LGBT lawyers have moved away from race in some arguments in these briefs. Indeed, a racial interpretation of Due Process and Equal Protection doctrine imposes certain limits on same-sex marriage litigation, of which we are warned by some Critical Race theorists, Latino Critical Legal theorists, and other scholars. In order to fully incorporate a discussion of race into the argument for legalizing same-sex marriage, the dangers posed by the black/white binary of race relations must first be overcome.