From Publishers Weekly
This study of same-sex marriage distinguishes itself by avoiding molten rhetoric and grounding its analysis in empirical data from Scandinavia's 16-year history of legal registered partnerships. In clear prose that explains legal minutiae and precedents in lay-reader-friendly terms, the legal scholars apply to the domestic debate the history and statistical evidence of government-sanctioned same-sex marriage in Denmark (since 1989), Norway (since 1993) and Sweden (since 1995). They also offer stories of same-sex couples and a concise history of the movement for same-sex marriage rights internationally. The authors build a convincing case that shoots down spurious interpretations of the Scandinavian data, such as same-sex marriage destroying the institution of marriage and victimizing children. In bringing the issue home, the authors prescribe an incremental process to legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States that involves a "menu approach" where a variety of options are available, including full marriage rights for all. Though the book has its share of dry moments, its reliance on hard data makes it stand out in a crowded field.
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"A treasure trove of statistics, laws, and sources, useful for any social science student...Anyone hoping to be an educated commentator or student of same-sex marriage in Europe or America should read Gay Marriage
. In particular, political science students would find it useful for detailed discussions of how interest groups interact to promote or resist social change in other nations. Students in sociology and gay studies classes would find the cross-cultural discussion quite helpful."--Journal of the History of Sexuality
"For a long time, we've needed a good scholarly account of the effects of same-sex marriage on marriage and society as a whole. Now we have it. This eye-opening book is a must-read for anyone interested in the continuing debate over same-sex marriage."--Andrew Sullivan, author of Virtually Normal
"Whatever your views are now on same-sex marriage, this is the book to read to be informed about why same sex couples want legal recognition and what legal union means to them and to the larger community. Eskridge and Spedale give detailed accounts of the effects of registered partnerships in Scandinavia--and along the way, offer fascinating and engaging pictures of many people's lives. Fundamentally, this book raises the bar and now no responsible discussion can proceed without addressing actual evidence from the countries with long experience giving same-sex relationships legal recognition."--Martha Minow, Jeremiah Smith Jr. Professor, Harvard Law School
"Eskridge and Spedale illuminate with remarkable even-handedness a debate that tends to generate more heat than light. They provide a cogent analysis of conservative arguments that same-sex matrimony threatens conventional marriage, and argue persuasively that enabling same-sex partners to marry may actually strengthen that beleaguered institution."--John Podesta, former White House Chief of Staff, currently President and CEO, Center for American Progress
"Eskridge and Spedale have given us an important and timely contribution to the debates about same-sex marriage. This book convincingly shows why the best policy (and the best politics) would be to support individuals and the families they form, however those families are constituted. It should be required reading for anyone interested in the future of families in America."--Martha Albertson Fineman, Robert W. Woodruff Professor, Emory Law School