Is it possible to pursue a queer agenda in promoting and defending gay rights ordinances? My answer is yes, or at least that we need to try to do it. I propose that we pursue a queer agenda by arguing for special rights, not equal rights. Not only does the special rights argument fit with the queer agenda; it also provides our best hope for confronting gay rights opponents. I'll put forth my argument in the following way. First, I'll talk about what a queer sensibility is, and discuss how a call for special rights fits within that sensibility. Second, I'll look at the rhetoric that gay rights opponents use when they argue against ordinances, initiatives and national laws protecting gay rights. As a part of this discussion, I will explore what they mean when they use the term "special rights." Third, I'll look at how proponents of gay rights talk about special rights and study how, in responding to gay rights opponents, they often miss the boat. Finally, I'll talk about what it would be like to respond with a special rights argument.


Symposium: Re-Orienting Law and Sexuality