Court’s In Session As Rutgers Law School Adds Class in LGBT Legal History

With our rights increasingly relying on court cases, it’s good news that the Rutgers School of Law (left) in Camden, NJ, has added a new class this semester focusing on the civil rights of the gay community.

Taught by Prof. N.E.H. Hull, LGBT Individuals in American Legal History traces the history of discriminatory laws against gays from the 17th century to today.  The course description explains how “nearly every discriminatory law challenging the LGBT community today can be traced to the colonial American laws (brought over from Great Britain) criminalizing ‘sodomy’ and regulating cross-gender modes of dress.”

And  those laws, as if any of us didn’t know, hamper our ability to marry, adopt, work, stay in hotels and, until last year, serve in the military.

“It’s the civil rights issue of the 21st century and it plays into so many areas of law,” Prof. Hull tells the Courier-Post. “It comes up in many different contexts, like constitutional rights and state law and legislation. Frankly, it’s crucial to have some background on the history of gay rights issues because the likelihood they come up in legal practice today is very strong.”

Hull sounds like the right person to teach it too: In addition to her JD she has a PhD in history, is widely published and has taught coursework on legal issues covering reproductive rights, senior citizens and employee benefits.

We’re excited to think there will be a new generation of advocates to argue for fairness, but it may be a moot point if Republicans manage to put every issue to a popular vote. Maybe they should start teaching classes in LGBT public relations so we learn how to make everyone scared of the Religious Right?

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