Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2003

Publication Title

William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law


civil rights, 9/11, gays, lesbians, civil liberties, employment discrimination, hate crimes


This article examines the events of 9/11, and the potential resultant shifts in attitude, policies, and laws in the United States, through the lens of civil rights extended to gay and lesbian citizens. It seeks, but does not purport to definitively discover, the true meaning of the phrase "life will never be the same." It asks, but does not purport to fully answer, whether historians a century or two hence will look back on 9/11 as the turning point when the United States began to fulfill its promise of liberty to all people, or whether this date will be earmarked as the time when the United States, wounded and weary, rejected individual civil liberties in favor of a restrictive but arguably "safer" society. The next section of this article, Section II, provides a brief status report on the civil rights of gay men and lesbians in the United States prior to 9/11. Additionally, Section II provides information in terms of the legal status of gays and lesbians and public attitudes about this segment of the U.S. population. Section III looks at how the nation has reacted to 9/11, and highlights the polar opposite reactions of those who seek to preserve civil liberties in this time of crisis and those who cite 9/11 as justification for significantly restricting these liberties. Section IV examines the situation through the narrower focus of civil rights extended to, and those denied to, gay and lesbian citizens of the United States. In addition to examining the important role gay and lesbian people played in 9/11 events, Section IV recounts the struggle of gay and lesbian people seeking eligibility for remedies routinely afforded their heterosexual counterparts. Section IV also identifies two other civil rights areas that may be affected by the events of 9/11: anti- discrimination in employment law and hate crime legislation. Section V provides a brief conclusion.




9 William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law 207 (2003)