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Protected Veterans: The Use of Positive Intersectionality in Achieving Legal Change


This paper examines how the LGBT Veteran organization, Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Veterans of America, has framed their advocacy for LGBT veterans’ rights, including their unique deployment of joint LGBT and military/veteran identities to strengthen their cause. Specifically, this research explores the way that the positive veteran/military identity that intersects with the less positively viewed LGBT identity facilitates both the cause and potential outcomes of their advocacy. While many social movements mobilize around a primary identity, LGBT veterans use their status as “protected veterans” to pursue rights for the LGBT community, both in the military and out. I argue that recognition of the elevated status enjoyed by military veterans is seen in the framing techniques of the LGBT veteran social movement and what I am calling “positive intersectionality”. Theories of intersectionality typically regard intersecting identities as limiting in an individual’s ability to fight discrimination, but this addendum to intersectional theory that I am proposing encompasses the full spectrum of identity, examining positive outcomes of intersectional identities rather than only negative outcomes.

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