The decision to have a child is seldom a simple one, often fraught with complexities regarding emotional readiness, finances, marital status, and compatibility with life and career goals. Rarely, though, do individuals consider the role of the law in facilitating or inhibiting their ability to have a child or to parent. For LGBT individuals, however, parenting is saturated with legality – including the initial decision of whether to have a child, how to have a child, whether one’s relationship with their child will be recognized, and everyday acts of parenting like completing forms or picking up children from school.
Through in-depth interviews with 137 LGBT parents, Amanda K. Baumle and D’Lane R. Compton examine the role of the law in the lives of LGBT parents and how individuals use the law when making decisions about family formation or parenting. Baumle and Compton explore the ways in which LGBT parents participate in the process of constructing legality through accepting, modifying, or rejecting legal meanings about their families. Few groups encounter as much variation in access to everyday legal rights pertaining to the family as do LGBT parents. This complexity and variation in legal environments provides a rather unique opportunity to examine the manner in which legal context affects the ways in which individuals come to understand the meaning and utility of the law for their lives. The authors conclude that legality is constructed through a complex interplay of legal context, social networks, individual characteristics, and familial desires. Ultimately, the stories of LGBT parents in this book reflect a rich and varied relationship between the law, the state, and the private family goals of individuals.
"Creatively and insightfully relying on remarkably rich data from in-depth interviews with LGBT parents and would-be parents, authors Amanda K. Baumle and DLane R. Compton meticulously document the great power that law has on LGBT families. At the same time, they also skillfully demonstrate the greater power of love: how LGBT families show resilience and resourcefulness in working with, navigating and challenging the law." ~Brian Powell,co-author of Counted Out: Same-Sex Relations and Americans' Definitions of Family
"Legalizing LGBT Families is a must read for policy makers, lawyers, activists and LGBT parents. The book tells the important story of how same-sex families make sense of a rapidly shifting legal landscape. By foregrounding the voices of LGBT parents Baumle and Compton vividly demonstrate the dedication, creativity and detective work these parents and partners must do to secure safety and protection for their families." ~C. J. Pascoe,author of Dude, You're a Fag
"[The] attention to how legal context combines with individual characteristics and social interactions to produce legal consciousness represents a significant contribution to both legal consciousness studies and the literature on LGBT families.[T]he books empirical contribution is substantial, and it holds continuing policy relevance even after the extension of marriage rights nationwide." ~American Journal of Sociology
"Baumle and Compton provide an accessible and deep understanding of how LGBT parents negotiate the law across contexts, even in the face of restrictive and prohibitive policies. This book will appeal not only to sexualities scholars and legal theorists, but also to LGBT parents who want to better understand the obstacles on the path to parenthood." ~Gender & Society
"The book succeeds in showing what various same-sex couples did to ensure that both parents were legally recognized. The stories told by the study's subjects are interesting and provide insight into why they took the actions they did." ~New York Journal of Books