Date of Completion

Spring 5-10-2009

Thesis Advisor(s)

Kristin Kelly

Honors Major

Political Science


American Politics | Family, Life Course, and Society | Gender and Sexuality | Other Political Science | Other Sociology | Politics and Social Change | Sociology of Culture


Abstract: In recent decades, the structure of the American family has been revolutionized to incorporate families of diverse and unconventional compositions. Gay and lesbian couples have undoubtedly played a crucial role in this revolution by establishing families through the tool of adoption. Eleven adoptive parents from the state of Connecticut were interviewed to better conceptualize the unique barriers gay couples encounter in the process adoption. Both the scholarly research and the interview data illustrate that although gay couples face enormous legal barriers, the majority of their hardship comes through social interactions. As a result, the cultural myths and legal restrictions that create social hardships for gay adoptive parents forge a vicious and discriminatory cycle of marginalization that American legal history illustrates is best remedied through judicial intervention at the Supreme Court level. While judicial intervention, alone, cannot change the reality of gay parenthood, I argue that past judicial precedent illustrates that such change can serve as a tool of individual, political, and legal validation for the gay community for obtaining equal rights.