My research focuses on the processes by which social groups are included in or excluded from the American polity.
My dissertation is entitled “Coalitions in Conflict: Balancing Law and Politics in Pursuit of LGBT Inclusion.” It starts from the premise that, for the last two decades, legal issues have dominated the lesbian and gay rights movement. The organizations pursuing these issues through impact litigation largely drive the movement’s agenda. There is a large group of issues that have historically been on the movement’s agenda but are difficult to pursue through impact litigation. These issues must be pursued across multiple venues and with a variety of strategies, but have largely languished in a legally oriented movement. Through a combination of analysis of legal texts, movement archival documents, and interviews with movement litigators and advocates, this dissertation looks at lesbian and gay rights issues beyond those pursued largely through impact litigation. It focuses on three issues: adoption and custody, employment non-discrimination, and open military service. It argues that each of these issues has been subject to a balance of law and politics that have produced differential results. The nature of these issues forces legal and political organizations to overcome the chasms that have formed between them to successfully pursue social change. When the movement successfully bridges these chasms, they produce more substantive results. When the movement remains divided and balkanized, issues languish and results remain evasive. This study illuminates the ways in which legal mobilization depends on the successful integration of law and politics as part of a cohesive and unified push for broad social change
- “The Gag Reflex: Disgust Rhetoric and Gay Rights in American Politics“ (with Shana Kushner Gadarian). Political Behavior, 2017. Read-only link.
- Plain-English summary at the Political Behavior blog.
- “Revisiting Demise through Success: The Lesbian and Gay Movement after Obergefell“. Forthcoming, Sociological Imagination, 53(1). Text at SocArXiv.
I am also currently at work on several other projects:
- “Deviance, Defiance, Dignity: Reconstituting the American Sexuality Regime” – this piece examines the recent emergence of religious liberty as a response to recent egalitarian challenges seeking LGBT inclusion from a developmental perspective.
- “Conflict and Cooperation at the LGBT Litigators’ Roundtable” – this piece examines the interaction of LGBT legal organizations and litigators at their central coordinating body, and uses archives, interviews, and secondary sources to identify key resources the Roundtable created for the movement.
Visit my SSRN author page.