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Civil rights


The U.S. Supreme Court's June 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas may prove to be one of the most important civil rights cases of the twenty-first century. It may do for gay and lesbian people what Brown v. Board of Education did for African-Americans and Roe v. Wade did for women. While I certainly hope so, my enthusiasm is tempered by the fact that discrimination on the basis of race or gender has not disappeared. Will Lawrence signal meaningful change, or will its revolutionary possibilities be stifled by endless cycles of excuse and redefinition? The case is important, but I worry that it may not go far enough. In this Essay, I explore the unique problems of gay civil rights, the limits of legal formalist discourse, and the importance of making the private public. I end with my own story of where I was when I heard the news of Lawrence because I believe strongly that making public our private stories is necessary to ensure that the experiences of law become the logic of law.