Associate 1993-94

Richard D Mohr


Equally Gay: A Moral, Social, and Legal Inquiry

What is a minority? What difference ought it make morally and legally if one is a member of a minority? What ought to the be content in practice of the Constitutional promise of "equal protection of the law"? These are the questions Professor Mohr sets out to answer in his book project Equally Gay: A Moral, Social, and Legal Inquiry.

The first half of the book develops a normative definition of a minority and shows that gays fit the definition. A minority is a group treated unjustly because of some status which the members of the group are socially perceived to possess independently of the behavior of the group's members. The distinctive mark of minorities is that their members are treated as morally lesser beings--like animals or dirt--and not as failed moral agents. What establishes minority standing for a group is not the group's origin--be that nature or culture--but the manner of society's perception and treatment of the group.

The second half of the book examines the moral mileage for social policy that results from gays' meeting the criteria for minority standing. It argues that gays should be afforded the same rights against governmental discrimination as is afforded racial and religious minorities. 

One of the chief aims of the first half of the book is to make available and useful to the law such moral and empirical studies as have been made of gays--of the second half, to make developments in equal protection law available and intelligible to a non-legal audience, gay and otherwise.