In this chapter, the third of four empirically grounded chapters, I explore lesbians’ and gay men’s views about the impact and effects of new legal developments in the regulation of relationships and parenting on their everyday lives from accounts solicited through in-depth interviews. I argue here that in interviews about relationship recognition and parenting, lesbians and gay men draw on similar discourses around power, resistance and equality to those found in survey research (as detailed in Chapter 4) and published personal narratives (as per Chapter 5). I also argue that in-depth interviews allow for gendered differences to become more apparent in lesbian and gay legal consciousness: first, regarding the negative, assimilationist possibilities of legal recognition of same-sex relationships; and second, with respect to the issue of appropriately gendered role models for children. The chapter is in three parts. I begin by outlining the methods used for this

chapter and the demographic profile of the interviewees, before moving on to explore participants’ views about the legal recognition of same-sex relationships, focusing on four themes: whether legal recognition is ‘good’ for lesbians and gay men; pragmatic and financial benefits of legal recognition; the complex interplays between recognition and regulation; and, finally, participants’ views about civil partnership as against marriage. In the third part, I turn my attention to participants’ views of law and legal process in relation to lesbian and gay parenting. These participants’ views about parenting again cohered around four themes: the challenges of thinking about becoming a parent as a lesbian or gay man; the practical difficulties faced by lesbians and gay men who wish to become parents; the ways lesbian parents manage societal norms; and the effects of legal regulation on lesbian parents. I conclude with a discussion of the ways in which legal consciousness and stories of power and resistance run through these participants’ accounts of their attitudes towards law and the place of law in their everyday lives.

The interview material foregrounding this chapter concerns lesbians and gay men’s views about, perceptions of and experience of the place of law in their

everyday lives. As such, the methods used in this chapter conform more closely to the methodological approach of legal consciousness studies. I interviewed ten lesbians and gay men1 about their attitudes to and views about these areas of life. The interviews were semi-structured in their approach, with a set of questions that I modified depending on the personal circumstances of the interviewee. There were, for example, different sets of questions depending on whether the interviewee was in a relationship or not, and whether or not they had children. The interviews each lasted approximately one hour. Interviews took place in the respondents’ homes or in another mutually convenient location. As discussed in Chapters 1 and 4, attempting to obtain a representative

sample in sexualities research is a near-impossibility, as non-heterosexual people make up an undefined and difficult to represent population. As such, I have not attempted to create a representative sample of participants in this study. Rather, participants were recruited through strategic opportunistic sampling through informal networks within lesbian and gay communities. Six interviews were carried out in Edinburgh, two in the Midlands and two in London. All of the participants in this interview study were white. Table 6.1 shows the demographic details for the participants. I am conscious that this small-scale examination of lesbian and gay views

about the effects of legal change on their lives cannot compare to the large legal consciousness investigations that have characterised the field of legal consciousness studies. This study does, therefore, differs in a number of important respects from Patricia Ewick and Susan Silbey’s (1998) study. In the study that formed the basis of The Commonplace of Law, Ewick and Silbey included a number of standardised questions related to legal knowledge, experience of and familiarity with legal institutions (e.g. courts) and specific questions about perceptions of legal authorities and legal procedures. In my study, no questions about legal knowledge were included – the aim of the

interview was solely to collect data in the form of personal narratives, not to evaluate how much legal knowledge interviewees had or to assess whether respondents’ knowledge of law was ‘correct’. Rather, I am interested in the narratives that are produced during the interview as texts. I do not claim that interview accounts are a method of accessing some kind of empirical ‘truth’ or as a window to some higher ‘reality’, but rather I see the interview as a place where stories are solicited by the interviewer and told by the interviewee – a space where co-constructed accounts of the relationship between law and everyday life are produced. Moreover, whereas previous legal consciousness studies have drawn on very

large numbers of interviews, for this chapter, I have interviewed just a small number of people (ten) about their views. I am not looking to people’s perceptions of law to expose master narratives of the stories that people tell about law (e.g. the three types of legal consciousness described by Ewick and Silbey); rather, I am interested in individual narratives as texts, the stories that each individual tells of their perspective on the legal regulation of nonnormative sexuality. For me, legal consciousness is a method of exposing the micro-interactions that happen at the level of everyday life, with individual experiences and stories of law being the focus of research, rather than broad legal systems and structures. I am also interested in the ways in which stories told in interviews reflect discourse around the issues of same-sex relationship recognition and lesbian and gay parenting using different methodological approaches.