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Courting Equality: A Documentary History of America's First Legal Same-Sex Marriages Paperback – May 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; Reprint edition (May 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807066214
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807066218
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 9.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,804,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Marilyn Humphries's stunning photos show what the struggle for equality looks like and what it feels like. [The authors] have documented an important piece of America's ongoing efforts to end discrimination against gay people and same-sex couples.—Mary L. Bonauto, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, lead counsel, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health

"What stands out in this masterful and nuanced collection of photographs-and the politically astute accompanying text-are the individual efforts over many years that led to the collective triumph for same-sex marriage."—Charlotte Abbott, the Advocate

"The pictures of protests and rallies-both the pro and the anti forces swarming with energy-make you feel like you're witnessing a combination of the American Revolution and a sizzling Red Sox game."—Mopsy Strange Kennedy, Improper Bostonian

"A remarkable chronicle of exactly how social change happens. Marilyn Humphries's vivid photographic documentation of the fight for same-sex marriage hardly needs any elaboration, but Kahn and Gozemba's accompanying legal history is riveting. Words and pictures together create a moving, human portrait of representative democracy at work." —Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home and Dykes to Watch Out For

About the Author

A former professor of English and women’s studies, Patricia A. Gozemba is the coauthor of Pockets of Hope: How Students and Teachers Change the World. She is also a founding member of The History Project, which has been documenting LGBT Boston since 1980. The former editor of Sojourner: The Women’s Forum, Karen Kahn also edited Frontline Feminism: Essays from “Sojourner’s” First Twenty Years. Gozemba and Kahn married in September 2005; they live in Salem, Massachusetts.
 
Marilyn Humphries is an independent photojournalist whose work over the past twenty-five years has appeared in numerous publications, ranging from the New York Times and the Progressive to Bay Windows, Gay Community News, and the Boston Phoenix. She lives in Beverly, Massachusetts.

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Customer Reviews

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This book chronicles the struggle for marriage equality brilliantly!
Amy6778
It is in fact greatly educational to read a history that eschews overviews and details the ups and downs within a particular state.
Mombian
The prose is page-turning and the photos will bring the story to life.
C. Julie Whitlow

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
While reading Courting Equality it became clear to me that the photos and the prose each could stand alone as a book-length work on the struggle for the civil right to same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. Together they present a powerful documentation of the latest civil rights struggle in the commonwealth and a blueprint for civil rights activists engaged in any battle for their rights.

Marilyn Humphries' photos document 25 years of the struggle and represent both the personal and political helping the reader to understand how it touched the lives of individuals and families in Massachusetts. Gozemba and Kahn, clearly inspired by the photos, write the story of the struggle as both personal and political history. As I read about the day the decision was handed down I felt like I was reading over Mary Bonauto's shoulder as she first read the decision on the steps of the court, and I felt like I was with each couple as they heard the news and headed to Boston for the press conference held by GLAD later that day to announce the decision.

The book goes on to document the details of the history of the struggle - the political strategy, legal wrangling, and activism that lead to the decision and to its implementation - with clarity and brilliance that neither minimizes the complexity of the process nor complicates it. Finally the authors document the impact of the decision on the personal lives of some of the first couples married in Massachusetts and their families. Their joy, love, and commitment to each other and to the struggle are apparent in both the photos and in the prose.

This is a page-turner, very hard to put down once you start looking at the photos and reading even a little of the text. It also is beautifully designed and laid out. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the struggle for equality and the workings of democracy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Elson on May 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
What could be more uplifting than to read a tale of seven courageous couples who took a public stand on what they believed and changed the course of history in Massachusetts? Karen Kahn and Pat Gozemba, in Courting Equality, chronicle the history of the LGBT movement leading up to 2003 landmark decision allowing same sex marriage. Don't look for a drab, preachy treatise on how the law was passed, but rather sit back and enjoy reading an informative, thought provoking, well written novel that unfolds like a well wrought mystery. Couple that with the extraordinary photos of Marilyn Humphries and you'll rejoice with the authors and photojournalist in a colossal celebration of the long overdue justice, equality and fairness finally accorded to same sex couples who simply want to live their lives as a family.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sara on May 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Courting Equality is a book that will forever remain on my coffee table. Not only because the essays and moving, the photos beautiful and sometimes painful reminders, but because it is a piece of my history.

I remember the foster care debate; I walked the final version of the Gay and Lesbian Civil rights bill around the State House for signatures. I remember the press conferences, the AIDS rallies... I remember thinking GLAD and the Goodridge plaintiffs were wonderfully idealistic and completely out of their minds.

Each photo, each essay serves as a tool to teach my kids about before and after. How people fought hard and believed against all odds in demanding change. They can also pick themselves out of the back row on the first anniversary photo in front of the State House steps. The book is personal and up close. It brings tears to my eyes every time I open it.

I can believe we won.

Over time, many books will be written about the historic changes that occurred in Massachusetts in 2004. Scholars will debate and publish different views. This book? This is one for the heart. It is for anyone and everyone who cares about the movement.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Susan Vick on May 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Lavish in prose and photography, COURTING EQUALITY presents the struggle to equal rights in marriage by Massachusetts' gay and lesbian community. Beyond the obvious, and above the gloss of Marilyn Humphries' stunning photo journal, Patricia A. Gozemba and Karen Kahn offer the reader a journey through worldwide discrimination which bends a bit as same sex couples arrive on the page grasping that one little piece of paper that unbars so many doors. These couples are sometimes both in wedding gowns or both in tuxedoes or anything else that expresses the joy of the moment, and Humphries, Gozemba, and Kahn order the rise of this movement in a powerful narrative that's hard to put down. I am happy to see Kahn and Humphries working again together for I so fondly remember their collaborations at Sojourner The Women's Forum during that publication's heyday late last century. I assume Gozemba has rallied this writer and this artist and added her own pizzazz to the endeavor. Huzzah!!! Good reading for anyone.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mombian on May 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Courting Equality is a glossy, large-format work, but to call it a coffee-table book is to do it an injustice. The text and photographs tell the mesmerizing story of the fight for marriage equality in Massachusetts. The book is at once a celebration, a history, and a reminder that we are all still writing a final chapter.

Whether you live in Massachusetts or elsewhere, you will find much in the volume to inform you about one of the hot-button issues of our time. The book opens, after an introductory overview, on the day of the Supreme Judicial Court's Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health decision that legalized same-sex marriage. The authors take us through the initial reactions of Mary Bonauto, the lead attorney on the case, and the seven plaintiff couples as they hasten to the press conference.

The next chapter brings us back to the early days of the LGBT civil-rights movement in Massachusetts, where the state helped set a trend for the nation. This is not intended to be a complete history of the fight for same-sex marriage, however. It is in fact greatly educational to read a history that eschews overviews and details the ups and downs within a particular state. The tale reads in part like a suspense novel, full of political machinations.

This is more than a story of politics, however. Throughout the work, we hear the voices of regular LGBT citizens and their allies. The last chapter is a celebration of the first same-sex wedding ceremonies. The authors place us in line with the first couples waiting to wed on May 17, 2004, and convey the giddy atmosphere that prevailed. They tell us the wedding stories of the seven Goodridge plaintiffs and many others besides.
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