Courts' Citation and Reference to Social Science in Legal Opinions Involving Gay Individuals


Courts' Citation and Reference to Social Science in Legal Opinions Involving Gay Individuals



The focus of the instant research was to determine whether citations to social science, in the form of publications, experts, or generalized bodies of knowledge, varied across four substantive contexts involving gay litigants: child custody and visitation, employment discrimination, first amendment, and criminal sodomy cases. Additionally, the effect of four other case factors was examined: the presence of a minor, a constitutional analysis or a nexus analysis, and whether homosexuality was conceptualized in moral terms. Finally, two qualitative measures, degrees of detail and reliance, were employed. The results indicated that there was a relatively high number of gay "rights" opinions which contained at least one social scientific citation. While the four samples did not differ significantly in total number of citations to social science, they did vary in the frequency of citations to social scientific experts. In addition, the presence of a minor and of a nexus analysis significantly affected the incidence of citations to social science. The qualitative data demonstrated that courts provided little detail in their social scientific citations and that they did not rely very heavily upon the cited social science. The implications of these results were examined in light of the theoretical/historical and empirical literatures. Finally, some suggestions for future research efforts were provided.

Publication Date



University of Nebraska, Lincoln


Lincoln, Neb.


social science, court opinions, gay, homosexul


Sexuality and the Law


Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Nebraska (Lincoln)), abstract in 49 Dissertation Abstracts International 2923B (1989) (Unpublished Work). Preview and purchase a copy via the Proquest Dissertation Abstracts database.