Jason Palmer examines the role of positive emotional intelligence in protecting disenfranchised and minority groups

Professor Jason Palmer
Professor Jason Palmer

Law Professor Jason Palmer wrote Emotional Intelligence and Homophobia for the Wake Forest Law Review in a symposium issue on Cognitive Emotion and the Law in fall 2019. 

According to the abstract

Emotional intelligence dictates that individuals react in a certain way because they are wired to respond emotionally to certain triggers. These emotional triggers can be either positive or negative. Those who understand the use of negative emotional intelligence can channel manipulative behavior into concrete outcomes as a direct result of the feelings created. Negative emotional intelligence thus can be used to perpetuate groupthink, which leads to bias, prejudice, stereotypes, and stigmatization.

Bias, both deliberate and implicit, is still prevalent with regard to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (“LGBT’) community despite the strides and advances that have occurred since the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. This proposition is demonstrated in “religious freedom” arguments presented in the Supreme Court case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. It is also apparent in the Department of Defense’s “national security” approach to transgender individuals. The use of these terms — “religious freedom” and “national security” — allows people to mask their implicit bias and permits marginalization of this minority group.

This article will demonstrate that by using the lenses of religious freedom, religious speech, and national security, anti-LGBT bias can be disguised and the dignity of LGBT individuals harmed. These lenses allow individuals to argue that it is not homophobic to refuse to bake a cake or take wedding photos, or that it is not transphobic to ban transgendered individuals from military service, but rather it is a principled stand based on religious beliefs and national security. To counter these negative attacks, positive emotional intelligence must be reinforced through reiterating and reflecting on how values such as equality and dignity should uphold the social good and not be used to harm a disenfranchised and minority group.

About Jason Palmer

Jason Palmer is the Leroy Highbaugh Sr. Research Chair and Professor of Law. He teaches legal research and writing, transactional document drafting, judicial opinion writing, law and sexuality, international litigation and arbitration, and complex litigation.