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From the Closet to the Altar: Courts, Backlash, and the Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage [Kindle Edition]

Michael J. Klarman
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Same-sex marriage has become one of the most volatile issues in American politics. But if most young people support gay marriage, and if there are clear indicators that a substantial majority of the population will soon favor it, why has the outcry against it been so strong?
Bancroft Prize-winning historian and legal expert Michael Klarman here offers an illuminating and engaging account of modern litigation over same-sex marriage. After looking at the treatment of gays in the decades after World War II and the birth of the modern gay rights movement with the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969, Klarman describes the key legal cases involving gay marriage and the dramatic political backlashes they ignited. He examines the Hawaii Supreme Court's ruling in 1993, which sparked a vast political backlash--with more than 35 states and Congress enacting defense-of-marriage acts--and the Massachusetts decision in Goodridge in 2003, which inspired more than 25 states to adopt constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. Klarman traces this same pattern--court victory followed by dramatic backlash--through cases in Vermont, California, and Iowa, taking the story right up to the present. He also describes some of the collateral political damage caused by court decisions in favor of gay marriage--Iowa judges losing their jobs, Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle losing his seat, and the possibly dispositive impact of gay marriage on the 2004 presidential election. But Klarman also notes several ways in which litigation has accelerated the coming of same-sex marriage: forcing people to discuss the issue, raising the hopes and expectations of gay activists, and making other reforms like civil unions seem more moderate by comparison. In the end, Klarman discusses how gay marriage is likely to evolve in the future, predicts how the U.S. Supreme Court might ultimately resolve the issue, and assesses the costs and benefits of activists' pursuing social reforms such as gay marriage through the courts.
From the Closet to the Altar will stand as the definitive one-volume history of the tumultuous emergence of same-sex marriage in American life as well as a landmark study of litigation, social reform, and the phenomenon of political backlash to court decisions.


Editorial Reviews

Review


"A fascinating read, full of detail, and an important contribution to our understanding of the legal and political influences on America's fastest moving social change movement."--Richard Socarides, former Clinton White House Special Assistant, attorney and long-time gay rights advocate


"Michael Klarman, a distinguished legal historian and constitutional scholar, has written a fascinating and authoritative history of the efforts through litigation to legalize homosexual marriage-efforts that seemed at first fated only to create a backlash against homosexual rights, yet that eventually merged with a surprising evolution of American public opinion in favor of legalization, and may be on the brink of success. His book is indispensable to understanding a legal movement that is being compared to the legal movement to desegregate the South."--Judge Richard A. Posner, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit


"Litigation has played a key role in catalyzing-and helping to win-gay people's struggle to achieve marriage equality. But these court victories have not been without their political costs. Michael Klarman assesses these intertwining stories with insight and objectivity, making his book a must-read for anyone interested in how courts shape the trajectories of social movements."--Patrick Egan, New York University


"Klarman's historical account is comprehensive, trenchant, and provocative." --The York Review of Books


"A fascinating read, full of detail, and an important contribution to our understanding of the legal and political influences on America's fastest moving social change movement."--Richard Socarides, former Clinton White House Special Assistant, attorney and long-time gay rights advocate


"Michael Klarman, a distinguished legal historian and constitutional scholar, has written a fascinating and authoritative history of the efforts through litigation to legalize homosexual marriage-efforts that seemed at first fated only to create a backlash against homosexual rights, yet that eventually merged with a surprising evolution of American public opinion in favor of legalization, and may be on the brink of success. His book is indispensable to understanding a legal movement that is being compared to the legal movement to desegregate the South."--Judge Richard A. Posner, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit


"Litigation has played a key role in catalyzing-and helping to win-gay people's struggle to achieve marriage equality. But these court victories have not been without their political costs. Michael Klarman assesses these intertwining stories with insight and objectivity, making his book a must-read for anyone interested in how courts shape the trajectories of social movements."--Patrick Egan, New York University


"Klarman's historical account is comprehensive, trenchant, and provocative." --The York Review of Books


About the Author


Michael J. Klarman is the Kirkland & Ellis Professor at Harvard Law School. He is the author of From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality (winner of the Bancroft Prize in History in 2005), Unfinished Business: Racial Equality in American History, and Brown v. Board of Education and the Civil Rights Movement.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2828 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0199922101
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (September 7, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00979YK2E
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #596,840 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting history of same-sex marriage December 7, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I really enjoyed this book. The author did a fantastic job of compiling the history of same-sex marriage, especially in regards to court decisions, without making it too complicated or boring. The author also did a great job in remaining neutral in the discussion. A very interesting, readable book.
Disclaimer: I received the Kindle book in exchange for my honest review.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Couldn't Put This Book Down February 5, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I usually only have time to read on the subway to and from work, but with this book I found myself reading when I was supposed to be asleep, reading when I was supposed to cook dinner, and reading when I would usually check e-mails or play Candy Crush.

Focusing more directly on court cases and legislative battles, this book gives a pretty narrow view of the progress of gay rights in this country. I think that like any major movement LGBT rights has many stories to tell, and this is just one of them.

It's written in a way that pulls you into each part of the story and leads you right to the Supreme Court. At the time it was published, there were a lot of changes going on, such as Obama changing his stance on gay marriage. I felt like I could feel the pulse of the movement as it moved forward faster and faster through history.

I really enjoyed his writing style, as well as his choices in book structure. I was glad I read it on my Kindle because occasionally I had to search for a name to find where he first mentioned it. I think that has more to do with my poor name memory than his story order though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great account of a phemonemal social transformation July 21, 2013
Format:Hardcover
Klarman tells the story of the breathtaking social turn toward acceptance of gay marriage in the U.S. with his usual insight as a legal historian and social observer, and yet in clear prose accessible to all readers. Great book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good theory, ok read January 4, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Overall after reading the book I was impressed with the theory of backlash that Klarman presents. I read this book for a graduate seminar and found it useful in my later research, but the writing the was unremarkable and quite humdrum at some points. I wont say that it was bad, because its not, but its not a leisure reading book either.
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