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Legislating the Family: Heterosexist Bias in Social Welfare Policy Frameworks Amy Lind University of Virginia Studies in Women and Gender Program This article addresses the effects of heterosexist bias in social welfare policy frameworks on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and families in the United States. It discusses the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), federal definitions of family and household, and stereotypes about LGBT individuals. It argues that poor LGBT individuals and families lack full citizen rights and access to needed social services as a result of these explicit and implicit biases. Key words: Welfare reform; family…show more content…
Jones observe (2002: 15). In these ways, institutionalized heterosexuality is central to some of the key motivation(s) behind and design of public policy frameworks in the United States. By “institutionalized heterosexuality” I am referring to the set of ideas, institutions and relationships that make the heterosexual family the societal norm, while rendering homosexual/queer families “abnormal” or “deviant” (Ingraham 1999). My queer analysis of social welfare involves examining how sexuality and gender can be rethought and reorganized in economic and social policy frameworks, theories and practices. Throughout the article I examine how heterosexuality is assumed to be the natural basis for defining the family, and by extension, society, both explicitly (by excluding LGBT people from the analysis and by stigmatizing certain individuals as “non-family” or “anti-family”) and implicitly (by assuming that all people are heterosexual, that marriage is a given and exists only between a traditionally-defined man and woman, and that all people fit more or less into traditional gender roles; see Foucault 1978; Fraser and Gordon 1994; Ingraham 1999; Phelan 2001;
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