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Why Marriage: The History Shaping Today's Debate Over Gay Equality Paperback – December 13, 2005


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Why Marriage: The History Shaping Today's Debate Over Gay Equality + Founding Faith: How Our Founding Fathers Forged a Radical New Approach to Religious Liberty + Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (December 13, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465009581
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465009589
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #765,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Chauncey says this short book, written on a three-month deadline and between two long-gestating big books, was a challenge, and his strain shows in some poor and question-begging wording. Nevertheless, this is a swell, partisan, but not particularly argumentative U.S. gay-rights history primer, which makes at least two big points that need to be common knowledge. The first is that active antigay repression is largely a twentieth-century phenomenon; strong antigay law enforcement and many of the laws themselves date from the 1930s and became harsher and spread after World War II. The other is that marriage became a primary gay-rights goal because of AIDS and gay efforts to adopt, for AIDS patients' partners were barred from them in hospitals and stripped of jointly held property after they died, and gays wishing to share responsibility for partners' children had to leap costly legal hurdles. Marriage, with its presumption of mutual rights and responsibilities, would eliminate those and other barriers. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A wonderfully readable account of how the issue emerged...[that] thoroughly debunks the myths of 'traditional' marriage." -- New York Times Book Review

"Breathtaking...[a] brilliant, slim, and nuanced volume." -- OUT Magazine

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By K. Pumphrey on November 30, 2007
Format: Paperback
Why Marriage? The History Shaping Today's Debate Over Gay Equality written by George Chauncey describes the history that has set the stage for the debate over gay marriage today. The book begins with a history of gay and lesbian individuals in the US and their struggle to enter and gain acceptance in the public sphere. Up until the 1930s during the great depression gay and lesbians were not viewed with such critique and demonization. During the great depression there was a push for traditional families when men lost their jobs and no longer had the same role in their family and found homosexuals to be a threat. Continued discriminatory practices continued in the following decades and gay clubs and restaurants were closed and individuals presumed to be homosexual were jailed. During the 1950's Broadway plays were band from having gay themed plays and an agreement was made in Hollywood not to represent gay characters or issues. During the 1970's public opinion was shifting and heterosexual couples were living together before marriage. Birth control was gaining popularity and sex was being viewed as a means of pleasure and not just for reproduction. During the 1980s through the 1990s the AIDS epidemic started and gay men were both stereotyped and feared as being diseased by the public and healthcare workers. Gay men came together with the support of female activists, who had experience in health due to work in the women's movement, to battle discrimination. In 1987 78% of the US viewed homosexual relations as wrong. During the 1990s gay characters could be seen in the media and movies such as Philadelphia were hits and gay support was increasing significantly. In 1993 the military enacted a "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy on homosexuality forcing many gay individuals to lead a double life.Read more ›
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Scooter on September 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A riveting analysis of the question of gay marriage that casts light on both its social and historical implications, placing the gay rights movement in the context of comparable 20th century movements defending and promoting the rights of blacks and women.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Esther Andersen on June 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is a really good run down of gay history leading up to the gay marriage issue of today. It is concise, easy to read and a great history lesson for those not too familiar with gay history. I would definitely recommend it for those who are not too familiar with the issues surrounding the gay marriage issue-and leading up to it.
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By Antonio Santos on April 29, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Another fantastic historical acount by George Chauncey of a subject that is often misunderstood and underrepresented. I would highly sugest this book and "Gay New York" to anyone interested in learning an untold history.
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By readthisbook on August 27, 2013
Format: Paperback
I'm a gay man who learned a lot about gay history from this book. The book describes the forgotten period at the beginning of the century when gays enjoyed an environment of relative freedom and then follows the severe crackdown on gays in the middle of the century (the viciousness of this period is also forgotten). Then he explains how this history promoted the emergence of gay marriage as a rallying issue for the gay rights movement.
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