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In this essay, I first describe the origins and current status of anti-discrimination laws that cover sexual orientation and/or gender identity. I examine the debates over whether existing laws are underutilized, and I analyze the variations in the structures of state and local laws that contribute to an unevenness in the patterns of utilization. These factors suggest that even persons living in states or local jurisdictions that already have anti-discrimination laws may lack meaningful mechanisms for redress. Part two raises the ante in my exploration of the relationship between sexuality and civil rights laws by asking whether there are ways that the civil rights concept itself may fall short of addressing the kinds of discrimination that LGBT persons experience. I approach this question by inviting readers to engage in a thought experiment of designing anti-discrimination laws around the experiences of persons who suffer sexuality-linked discrimination, rather than trying to shoehorn those life experiences into a standard anti-discrimination model. I conclude that there are points of friction between sexuality and civil rights that bubble beneath the surface of advocates' longstanding efforts to fold sexual orientation into the civil rights model.

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17 N.Y.L. Sch. J. Hum. Rts. 565-587 (2000)