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The Law of Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation: A Beginner’s Guide

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June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride month, and as such, it seems the perfect time to highlight resources that address the legal issues surrounding gender identity and sexual orientation in the United States. While these issues are frequently talked about as if they fall into a singular category, they bleed into multiple areas of law, including family law, employment law, immigration law, juvenile law, tax law, and health law, among many others.  Thus, it can be difficult to find resources that touch on all or most of these areas. Hopefully this Beginner’s Guide can serve to simplify this research process, and provide some helpful resources for those interested in the law surrounding gender identity and sexual orientation.

Pride Flag. (Photo by Flickr user quinn.anya, October 2012). Used under Creative Commons license,
Pride Flag. (Photo by Flickr user quinn.anya, October 2012). Used under Creative Commons license,

Print Resources

As is very clear from recent court cases and other events highlighted in the news, the law in the area of gender identity and sexual orientation is still in a state of flux. However, to get a grounding in the law as it currently stands, and to get more information on how to update your research in the future, it may be best to start your research with a secondary source, like a legal treatise or law review article. The Law Library of Congress has several helpful resources in its collection, including:


Same-Sex Marriage and “Alternative Relationships”



Background/Legal History

Law Journals

To find these resources in a library near you, you can use the WorldCat catalog. Simply perform a search for the resource, open the resource’s catalog page, and use the “Find a copy in the library” feature to locate the resource in your area.

Internet Resources

In light of the breakneck pace of changes in the law regarding gender identity and sexual orientation, researchers might also want to keep on top of these issues by using internet resources, which are often updated more frequently than resources in print. Some useful sites are:

For any questions about this area of the law, contact the Law Library of Congress through our Ask-a-Librarian feature.

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