The Case for Same-Sex Marriage: From Sexual Liberty to Civilized Commitment

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Free Press, 1996 - Social Science - 296 pages
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Suddenly, thanks to a surprising decision by the Hawaii Supreme Court, the issue of same-sex marriage is sweeping the country. Two-thirds of all Americans are reportedly opposed to the idea -- but the discussion has just begun. Should the institution of marriage be redefined and expanded? Or should the state continue to restrict the choices of its gay and lesbian citizens? In this timely book that just might change the law of the land, William Eskridge offers arguments that will be controversial among both gays and straights. First, he demonstrates that only the modern West has failed to provide some form of sanction for same-sex unions. For those who claim that marriage has never been anything but heterosexual, Eskridge's historical evidence presents a profound challenge. Second, he argues that legalizing same-sex marriage would help civilize gays. Whether because of the biology of masculinity or the furtiveness of illegality, gay men have been known for their promiscuous subcultures. Promiscuity has encouraged a cult of youth worship and has contributed to the stereotype of homosexuals as people who lack a serious approach to life. It is time for gay America to mature, and there can be no more effective path to maturity than marriage. Third, same-sex marriage would help civilize America. A civilized polity assures equality for all its citizens. Without full access to the institutions of civic life, gays and lesbians cannot be full participants in the American experience. Gays and lesbians love their country, and have contributed in every way to its flourishing. Along the way, Eskridge discusses the controversial issue of raising children in gay households. Finally, in an Appendix, he includes letters from a broad cross-section of American clergy -- Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish, evangelical, traditional, and modern -- in support of legalization. The Case for Same-Sex Marriage will catalyze arguments from coast to coast and stand at the forefront of political controversy for a

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Contents

Civilizing Gays Civilizing Straights
1
A History of SameSex Marriage
15
The Debate Within the Lesbian and Gay Community
51
Copyright

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About the author (1996)

William N. Eskridge, Jr., is a professor at Georgetown Law Center in Washington, D.C. He was co-counsel in a prominent gay-marriage case in federal circuit court. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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