I now turn to the second empirical lens in my exploration of legal consciousness and sexuality, by examining lesbians’ and gay men’s stories of parenting. Specifically, the moments within these parenting narratives where law or legality is mentioned, invoked, questioned or described. In contrast to the legal recognition of same-sex relationships, the regulation of lesbian and gay parenting is, in many respects, a less analysed facet of lesbian and gay family life. As discussed in Chapter 4, same-sex relationship recognition has attracted a great deal of attention from lesbian and gay activist groups and the media and has faced strong opposition from conservative and religious groups and individuals. Lesbian and gay parenting, on the other hand, seems not to have had the same level of either support or opposition. There have, of course, been times when lesbian and gay parenting has been in the media spotlight, for example in debates about whether same-sex couples should be able to adopt jointly (see Hicks, 2005), or whether lesbian couples and single women should be entitled to access assisted conception services (see Jackson, 2002; Robinson, 1997). But these sorts of debate seem to cohere more around the moral arguments for and against allowing lesbians and gay men to become parents, rather than how law and legal regulation affect the everyday experiences of those lesbians and gay men who are parents. My concern in this chapter, then, is to explore published narratives from lesbian and gay parents, and the place of law in their experience of being parents. Stories1 are everywhere. They are told and re-told, written down, published

in books or passed on orally from person to person. Stories come in many forms – they are fictitious, factual, personal, political, biographical, autobiographical, all these things, none of them, and can also take an almost infinite variety of other forms. In some respects, stories can be so individual and specific, that it could be difficult to see where different stories are linked. But each and all

stories either contribute to normative visions of society or are counter-stories, working from outside or underneath the dominant cultural understandings present in society (Harris et al., 2001). Each story also has its own situation in a time, space and place and, as a result, has the capacity to reflect the social world from which the story was born (Plummer, 1995). Since at least the midtwentieth century, stories have become a focus for social thought and academic research in the social sciences (Orbuch, 1997). Much sociological and literary research into narrative has taken narrative

structure as a focus of investigation (see e.g. Maines, 1993; Roof, 1996) and has mapped the ways in which narrative is constructed, including exploring the need for a story, a plot and a linear progression through time (Maines, 1993: 21). Other narrative research, however, has taken the content of stories as the focus of analysis, ‘inspecting the social role of stories: the ways they are produced, the ways they are read, the work they perform in the wider social order, how they change, and their role in the political process’ (Plummer, 1995: 19). It is this latter form of narrative inquiry that will be my focus in this chapter. Although a number of scholars have used narrative to elucidate the

position(s) of lesbians and gay men in law (e.g. Eskridge, 1994; Fajer, 1992; Robson, 1997), none of these analyses has taken lesbian and gay parenting as their starting point. My concern is primarily with the way(s) in which legal rules impact on the everyday lives of lesbians and gay men who are parents (and, by extension, the lives of their children), and the perceptions of and attitudes towards ‘law’ that are present in lesbian and gay parenting stories. Specifically, it is the ways in which relationships of power and resistance are highlighted and exposed by these stories that I find interesting from a legal consciousness perspective. I begin by outlining some of the ways in which storytelling and narrative have been used in legal scholarship, with an exploration of the ways narratives of law can be used with legal consciousness studies in order to understand perceptions of and attitudes towards law in everyday life, and to highlight relations of power and resistance. I then turn to a discussion of the stories of law that can be found within lesbian and gay parents’ published stories, with specific regard to legal consciousness, perceptions of the power of law and examples of resistance to law. I conclude with an overview of gender and legal and social change in lesbian and gay parenting as expressed through these personal narratives. I argue that similar discourse about the place of law in everyday life for lesbians and gay men can be found in these stories of law as were evident in the analysis of attitudes to the legal recognition of same-sex relationships in Chapter 4.