Let’s Talk About Same Sex: How Social Workers Can Make Judges Listen

  • Stephanie K. Boys Indiana University
Keywords: Policy practice, same sex marriage, discrimination, discourse, social policy


Researchers have created a diverse toolbox of literature reporting that same sex cohabitating relationships are strikingly similar to heterosexual marriages in amicus curiae briefs submitted to the courts. However, judges are trained to fit information into legal frameworks and to ignore data that does not fit the rhetoric of a case. The following article aims to fit existing data on same sex relationships into the framework judges will use to decide whether same sex marriage can be prohibited. The primary precedent used to support same sex marriage is based on the analogy of a case prohibiting marriage discrimination based on race. The legal framework created by this case requires social work policy practitioners to frame research in terms of the evolution that has occurred in scientific understanding of same sex attraction and public opinion. A simple shift in the discourse used to frame the data can significantly impact whether judges listen.

Author Biography

Stephanie K. Boys, Indiana University
Assistant Professor of Social Work