Books for the News

Wedding Bells for All

Gay-rights supporters are celebrating momentous victories this week in the fight for marriage equality. Following a ruling in Iowa by the state’s Supreme Court that a law limiting marriage to a man and a woman was unconstitutional (paving the way for same-sex marriages to begin by the end of April), Vermont became the first state to legalize gay marriage with a legislature‘s vote, overturning Governor Jim Douglas’ veto, and the Washington, DC, city council voted unanimously to recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere (many of which may now take place in Iowa because that state does not require marriage license seekers to prove residency). Given the historic rulings and unprecedented momentum (even dictionaries are adapting to the times), we thought it would be a good time to offer a same-sex marriage reading list.
jacket imageThe Politics of Same-Sex Marriage brings together an esteemed list of scholars to explore all facets of this heated issue, including the ideologies and strategies on both sides of the argument, the public’s response, the use of the issue in political campaigns, and how same-sex marriage fits into the broad context of policy cycles and windows of political opportunity. With comprehensive coverage from a variety of different approaches, this volume will be a vital sourcebook for activists, politicians, and scholars alike.
jacket imageWhy is it so much harder for American same-sex couples to get married than it is for them to adopt children? And why does our military prevent gays from serving openly even though jurisdictions nationwide continue to render such discrimination illegal? Illuminating the conditions that engender these contradictory policies, Same Sex, Different Politics explains why gay rights advocates have achieved dramatically different levels of success from one policy area to another. The first book to compare results across a wide range of gay rights struggles, this volume explores debates over laws governing military service, homosexual conduct, adoption, marriage and partner recognition, hate crimes, and civil rights. It reveals that in each area, the gay rights movement’s achievements depend both on Americans’ perceptions of its demands and on the political venue in which the conflict plays out. Adoption policy, for example, generally takes shape in a decentralized system of courts that enables couples to target sympathetic judges, while fights for gay marriage generally culminate in legislation or ballot referenda against which it is easier to mount opposition.
jacket imageWith the average cost of a wedding these days topping the ticket price for tuition at most Ivy League schools, matrimony, and the industry of planners, florists, and caterers that has sprouted up to support it, has strayed long and far from distinctly Christian aspirations. Why then, asks noted gay commentator Mark D. Jordan, are so many churches vehemently opposed to blessing same-sex unions? In this incisive work, Jordan shows how carefully selected ideals of Christian marriage have come to dominate recent debates over same-sex unions. Opponents of gay marriage, he reveals, too often confuse simplified ideals of matrimony with historical facts. They suppose, for instance, that there has been a stable Christian tradition of marriage across millennia, when in reality Christians have quarreled among themselves for centuries about even the most basic elements of marital theology, authorizing experiments like polygamy and divorce. Arguing that no matter what the courts do, Christian churches will have to decide for themselves whether to accept gay marriage, Blessing Same-Sex Unions will be a must-read for both sides of the debate over gay marriage in America today.
jacket imageIn Equality for Same-Sex Couples, Yuval Merin presents the first comparative study of the legal regulation of same-sex partnerships worldwide, as well as a unique survey of the status of same-sex couples in Europe. Merin begins by providing a historical overview of the transformation of marriage from antiquity to the present. He then identifies and critically compares four principal models for the legal regulation and recognition of same-sex partnerships: civil marriage, registered partnership, domestic partnership, and cohabitation. Merin concludes that all of the models except civil marriage discriminate against gays and lesbians just as the “separate but equal” doctrine discriminated against African Americans; thus, so-called alternatives to marriage, even if they provide the same rights and benefits as marriage, are inherently unequal and therefore unconstitutional.
For more books that will bring readers a fuller understanding of what’s at sake in the fight for marriage equality, check out our books on marriage and family as well as our esteemed list of titles in gay and lesbian studies.