Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Monica Varsanyi

Subject Categories



LGBT, same-sex parenting, same-sex marriage, legal consciousness, legal recognition, social movements


This thesis focuses on how same sex couples within the United States claim specific parenting rights and to what extent can law promote social change. Since certain beliefs, values, and behaviors are accepted by some cultural groups or organizations in a society, many same sex couples believe that they should obtain an equal amount of legal entitlement instead of being limited or restricted from certain rights. The theoretical approach incorporates the concepts of legal consciousness and the importance of legal recognition. Legal consciousness is a form of legal awareness and empowerment of people involving issues in regards to the law. The concept additionally focuses on whether or not people interact with the law and decide if they wish to either engage or even disengage themselves in certain practices. By integrating the exploration of social movements, I then include examples of how such movements seek to rely on litigation and are formed in order to shift public opinion and policies that are in favor of same-sex couples parenting rights. Next, I indicate in what ways social movements can promote economic, legal, and social change for same sex couples since individuals have the ability to share and reflect their ideas about the law through several organizations and legal practices. Last, I incorporate the DeBoer v. Snyder case and describe how Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage was overturned, allowing same-sex couples to legally parent and jointly adopt children. My conclusion explains ways in which social change, acceptance, and legal recognition can occur for same-sex couples who fight for specific parenting rights.

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