Why Marriage?: The History Shaping Today's Debate Over Gay Equality

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Basic Books, 2005 - Law - 200 pages
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"George Chauncey, one of our country's preeminent historians of gay life shows how the gay quest for marriage rights resulted from generations of change in marriage itself as well as decades of struggle over gay rights. In an account of the changing place of lesbians and gay men in American society, he recalls the pervasive discrimination faced by lesbians and gay men only a few decades ago, when the federal government fired thousands of gay employees and restaurants were shut down merely for serving them. He shows how the AIDS crisis, the boom in lesbian and gay parenting, and the continuing discrimination faced by gay families - in insurance, pensions, and child custody struggles - led to the campaign for the rights and protections of marriage." "Chauncey provides an analysis of the shifting attitudes of heterosexual Americans toward gay people, from the dramatic growth in acceptance to the many campaigns against gay rights that form the background to today's demand for a constitutional amendment on marriage. He also develops a comparison between the religious opposition to interracial marriage and desegregation just fifty years ago and the sources of opposition to same-sex marriage today. Why Marriage? is an essential book for gay and straight readers alike."--Dust jacket.
 

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Contents

The Legacy of Antigay Discrimination
3
Gay Rights Civil Rights
21
How Marriage Changed
57
Why Marriage Became a Goal
85
The Present as History
135
Acknowledgments
165
Notes
168
Index
188
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About the author (2005)

George Chauncey is professor of American history at the University of Chicago and the author of Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940, which won the distinguished Turner and Curti Awards from the Organization of American Historians, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the Lambda Literary Award. He testified as an expert witness on the history of antigay discrimination at the 1993 trial of Colorado's Amendment Two, which resulted in the Supreme Court's Romer v. Evans decision that antigay rights referenda were unconstitutional, and he was the principal author of the Historians' Amicus Brief, which weighed heavily in the Supreme Court's landmark decision overturning sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas (2003). The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, he lives and works in Chicago.

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