Before law professor Anthony Infanti started teaching at the University of Pittsburgh, he spent six years at a New York law firm in an office next to a colleague who had a "wholly irrational fear" of Infanti because he was gay. The man literally couldn't cross the threshold of Infanti's office to give him assignments.
Infanti includes this story in a chapter on employment and housing rights in a book due out by the end of the month, Everyday Law for Gays and Lesbians and Those Who Care About Them. The book clarifies legal terms and explains rights applicable to gays and lesbians in daily life.
"There are differences in the way the law applies to gays and lesbians [as compared to] straight people," he says. "Legislation in that area is very controversial, and I wanted to explain [it] in a way that's readable and interesting."
While storytelling is unusual for a guide to everyday law, Infanti says: "The anecdotes allow you to learn the facts and apply the law to everyday life."
One chapter describing the military includes a story from one of Infanti's students who became disenchanted during her time with the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. "Lacy," who is gay and had wanted to be in the Air Force since childhood, left the AFROTC after reluctantly signing a waiver stating that she wasn't a homosexual. Following "Lacy's Story," Infanti explains the history and terms of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy of the U.S. military.
Aaron Arnold, president of the Rainbow Alliance student group at the University of Pittsburgh, calls Infanti's book both "a great reminder to keep current on GLBT issues" and "a wake-up call.
"Gays and lesbians today are going through a transition where [sexuality] is a lot more comfortable around friends," Arnold says. "But some are unaware that their rights are still limited when it comes to legislation. This book allows us to see where the holes are.
"Also, having gays and lesbians telling the stories makes it easier to relate to the laws. It makes me really proud that someone is using their professional time to make our lives easier."
Infanti says he also wanted to create awareness about how to change current GLBT laws, which he says are often ambiguous and badly written. "I wanted to make others aware of the legislation process and how to avoid pitfalls," he said.