The Article examines the impact of social movement activity upon the advancement of GLBT rights. It analyzes the state and local strategy that GLBT social movements utilized to alter the legal status of sexual orientation and sexuality following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bowers v. Hardwick. Successful advocacy before state and local courts, human rights commissions, and legislatures fundamentally shifted public opinion and laws regarding sexual orientation and sexuality between Bowers and the Supreme Court’s ruling in Lawrence v. Texas. This altered landscape created the “political opportunity” for the Lawrence ruling and made the opinion relatively “safe.”
Currently, GLBT rights groups are following a similar strategy with respect to the pursuit of same-sex marriage. This Article evaluates that strategy and considers whether political opportunities for reform in GLBT rights exist on the national stage.