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Abstract

Despite the prominence of both "affirmative action" and "gay and lesbian rights" at the center of the civil rights debate in the United States, remarkably little thought has been given to affirmative action for lesbians and gay men. When the issue of affirmative action for gay and lesbian people is raised at all, it is almost always mentioned as a feared result of enacting antidiscrimination laws , is occasionally cited briefly in a footnote, or is simply presented alongside affirmative action for racial minorities and women, without any attention drawn to the novel issues raised by the sexual orientation component of such affirmative action. Even the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, a leading gay and lesbian civil rights and public education organization, has no position on affirmative action for lesbians and gay men. Perhaps proponents of affirmative action simply do not welcome the additional controversy that would likely accompany inclusion of lesbians and gay men; perhaps gay and lesbian community leaders fear alienating potential supporters by appearing to demand "special rights" or preferential treatment over heterosexual workers; perhaps employers, affirmative action supporters, and society at large are still too homophobic even to broach the subject of affirmative action for lesbians and gay men.

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