Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Department or School

Women's and Gender Studies

Committee Member

Lori Watson, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Kate Mehuron, PhD

Committee Member

Konnie Kustron, JD


This paper takes another look at the displacement of lesbians and gays from civic society by being prohibited from accessing marriage rights. First, certain events in anti-gay discrimination and marriage history that contributed to the second-class citizenship of lesbians and gays are reviewed. Second, a look at how the secondclass citizenship is unique to lesbians and gays is examined. Finally, this paper looks at the marriage, fatherhood, and faith-based initiatives under welfare reform and how they reinforce heterosexual marriage and family in American society.

After extensive research, I have found that the roles of the initiatives under welfare reform have in defining marriage and family had been overlooked. Welfare initiatives affect individual state policies that determine services like adoption that many lesbians and gays utilize. Therefore, a closer look at the role of welfare initiatives on the definition of marriage and family is needed by lesbian and gay organizations.

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