ACLU Releases Fourth Edition of The Rights of Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexuals, and Transgender People

March 10, 2004 12:00 am

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New Book Provides Up-to-Date Information on the Rights of LGBT People in Marriage, Parenting, the Military and Schools


NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union announced today that it has updated its comprehensive book on gay rights, The Rights of Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexuals, and Transgender People (Southern Illinois University Press, February 2004). The new edition, which is available at and in bookstores around the country, contains updated information on recent groundbreaking cases including the Supreme Court’s decision saying lesbian and gay relationships can no longer be considered criminal and the recent decision by the Massachusetts high court to grant same-sex marriages.

“”We’ve come a long way since the first edition of this book in 1975,”” said Nan D. Hunter, co-author and former director of the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. “”At that time, the fundamental question was whether gay people had meaningful legal protection of any sort. Now we can write a guidebook to a rich and complicated area of law, one that is growing every day.””

Presented in a question-and-answer format, the book answers such basic questions as whether gay people have the right to be out and the repercussions of being out at work. Many readers will be surprised to learn that while everyone has a First Amendment right to be open about their sexual orientation and gender identity, there is no federal law that protects against sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination in the workplace. While some states and municipalities have laws against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, most do not.

The book looks at the many ways that LGBT people are discriminated against in this country, from being fired or refused housing to not being able to secure legal protections for same-sex relationships, and provides the reader with an easy to understand analysis of the law. The book includes especially helpful information for LGBT people with children, including information about second-parent adoption as well as custody and visitation in the event of a divorce or a breakup.

“”It is an exciting time in the struggle for LGBT equality,”” continued Hunter, a professor of law at Brooklyn Law School. “”The Supreme Court’s decision last summer was a breakthrough that should help us to make changes beyond criminal law and beyond the principle that the government has no business prohibiting private consensual adult sexual conduct. We will see the ramifications in cases about gay parenting, respect for our relationships and safer schools for LGBT youth.””

While the book offers practical advice on the rights of LGBT people in fighting discrimination, it also provides insight in the special role that the courts have played in carving out protections for gay people. The new edition includes a special section on the rights of transgender people, as well as a chapter devoted to the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS.

This edition of the book was co-authored by Hunter, Courtney Joslin, a staff attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Sharon McGowan, an attorney with the National Legal Department of the ACLU.

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