Gwen Leachman wins LSA Student Article Prize
JSP/JD student Gwendolyn Leachman will be awarded the Law and Society Association's Best Graduate Student Paper prize at the 2009 annual meeting next month in Denver. Gwen was chosen for her paper "Who Frames the Message? Countermovements and Public Perception of Social Movements’ Legal Agendas."
Abstract: Social conservatives have historically used populist
rhetoric and “activist judges” framing to de-legitimate progressive
social movements’ litigation strategies. In this paper, I show that
opponents to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights
have used these discursive resources to draw attention to same-sex
marriage litigation – a tactic that constitutes only a small part of
the LGBT movement’s legal docket. I argue that as a result of this
resonant countermovement framing, the LGBT movement has become widely
mischaracterized in the mainstream media, in academia, and within the
movement itself as dominated by its focus on same-sex marriage. This
paper therefore demonstrates how a social movement’s litigation
strategy can be used to support countermovement rhetoric, which may in
turn distort a movement’s message and its public identity.