Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2002

Abstract

Proceedings of a criminal trial in Dallas, Texas, demonstrate the vulnerability of LGBT individuals to judicial bias. Although the jury convicted the defendant of murdering two gay males, the judge explained his light sentence: "I put prostitutes and gays at about the same level, and I'd be hard put to give somebody life for killing a prostitute . . . had [the victims] not been out there trying to spread AIDS, they'd still be alive today . . . These two guys that got killed wouldn't have been killed if they hadn't been cruising the streets picking up teen-age boys . . . I don't care much for queers cruising the streets. I've got a teen-age boy." An investigation by the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct cleared the judge of any wrongdoing. This Article analyzes the problem of judicial bias as a structural matter, and it encourages legal scholars to resist treating it as an atomistic or individualized phenomenon.

This Article addresses two important issues related to the task of unveiling and challenging the institutional nature of anti-gay bias. In Part II, this Article explains in greater detail how a structural analysis of judicial bias can lead to a richer understanding of subordination by uncovering the subtle, hidden, and ideological roots and manifestations of oppression. Part III argues that law and sexuality scholars must conduct a multidimensional reading of judicial heterosexism- that is, in order to appreciate fully the structural dimensions of judicial bias against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals, we must recognize that this bias exists as part of a larger system of domination along race, gender, and class lines.

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