Civil Wars: A Battle for Gay Marriage

Overview

In 2000 Vermont became the first state to grant gay and lesbian couples the right to join in civil unions-a groundbreaking decision that has inspired similar legislation in six states thus far. But it was not an easy victory; the ruling sparked the fiercest political conflict in the state's memory. David Moats was in the thick of it, writing a series of balanced, humane editorials that earned a Pulitzer Prize. Now he tells the intimate stories behind the battle and introduces us to all the key actors in the ...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (44) from $1.99   
  • New (4) from $1.99   
  • Used (40) from $1.99   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$1.99
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(116)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
015101017X

Ships from: North Dartmouth, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$8.51
Seller since 2005

Feedback rating:

(1623)

Condition: New
New

Ships from: Fort Worth, TX

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$45.00
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(188)

Condition: New
Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
$638.77
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(0)

Condition: New
Orlando, Florida, U.S.A. 2003 Hardcover New 015101017X. Flawless.

Ships from: New Hampton, NY

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Close
Sort by
Sending request ...

Overview

In 2000 Vermont became the first state to grant gay and lesbian couples the right to join in civil unions-a groundbreaking decision that has inspired similar legislation in six states thus far. But it was not an easy victory; the ruling sparked the fiercest political conflict in the state's memory. David Moats was in the thick of it, writing a series of balanced, humane editorials that earned a Pulitzer Prize. Now he tells the intimate stories behind the battle and introduces us to all the key actors in the struggle, including the couples who first filed suit; the lawyers who spent years championing the case; and the only openly gay legislator in Vermont, who ensured victory with an impassioned, deeply personal speech on the House floor at a crucial moment.

Civil Wars is a remarkable drama of democracy at work on a human scale.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Nashville Scene
"A page-turner that may have readers so engrossed in its storytelling, they forget the controversial nature of its subject matter."
The Desert News
"A fascinating book."
Kentucky Courier-Journal
"A heartening book, and tonic for these politically polarized times."
Booklist
"Moasts opens in an epic manner... and reports clearly and fairly from a thoroughly secular perspective."
Yankee
"Sparely elegant. It is valuable reading for anyone who wants to understand one of the central issues of our time."
Baltimore Sun
"A thoroughly engaging narrative that is poignant and provocative."
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR DAVID MOATS
"David Moats wrote a series of editorials as fine as any published in an American newspaper in many years. Now he brings the same tone and temper to his book: wise, calm, generous, and understanding. Readers will meet an exceptional writer telling a most compelling story."-Donald Graham, chairman of the Washington Post Company

"He is taking a Vermont experience and making it into a national story that is worth telling."
-Madeleine Kunin, former Vermont governor

Yankee
"Sparely elegant. It is valuable reading for anyone who wants to understand one of the central issues of our time."
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR DAVID MOATS
"David Moats wrote a series of editorials as fine as any published in an American newspaper in many years. Now he brings the same tone and temper to his book: wise, calm, generous, and understanding. Readers will meet an exceptional writer telling a most compelling story."-Donald Graham, chairman of the Washington Post Company

"He is taking a Vermont experience and making it into a national story that is worth telling."
-Madeleine Kunin, former Vermont governor

Publishers Weekly
"Insightful cultural history enlivened by well-rendered characters, sweeping events, and a clearly argued pro-gay marriage agenda."
The New York Times

"CIVIL WARS comes at the right moment. With modesty and moral suasion, it may calm the polarizing national debate."
The New York Times Book Review

"A moving account of the battle in Vermont."
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780151010172
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 2/2/2004
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

David Moats is the editorial page editor of the Rutland Herald, where he won that paper's first Pulitzer Prize for his series of editorials in support of same-sex unions. His articles have appeared in the New York Times and the Wash-ington Post. He lives in Middlebury, Vermont.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

OUR COMMON HUMANITY

BETH ROBINSON did not expect the call to come that Monday, but at 10:55 A.M. on December 20, 1999, the court clerk was on the line. It could mean only one thing. The Vermont Supreme Court had reached a decision.

The struggle for gay marriage had been waged fitfully for nearly thirty years in courtrooms across the country, gaining a short-lived victory eleven years before in Hawaii. But Hawaii eventually reversed course, and no jurisdiction in the country had established that gays and lesbians had a right to marry equal to that of heterosexual couples.

Now the Vermont Supreme Court was in a position to lead the way. Robinson had argued the case thirteen months before, urging the court to establish for the first time anywhere in the United States that gay and lesbian couples had the right to marry. For the past year, she and supporters all across the country had been waiting for the outcome.

The court customarily released its decisions on Fridays, and for the last six months Robinson had worn specific outfits to work each Friday to be ready for the press conference that would follow an announcement of the ruling. In the spring and fall she had worn an electric blue suit. For the summer she had a black and white outfit. But Friday had passed three days before without a ruling, only a hint: The court had sent out a message that because of the holidays it might release rulings the following week on a day other than Friday.

Robinson was a 34-year-old lawyer with one of Vermont's most prestigious firms. She was trim and athletic, with an intense gaze, an incisive intellect, and a devotion to the rigors of the law. She had been working on the freedom-to-marry issue for four years, and she knew that people all across the country who had struggled against the indignities of a second-class status had pinned their hopes on her. She had heard the stories of insults endured and rights denied, and she had drawn inspiration from the commitment of people who were willing to fight for legal recognition of their intimate relationships. Since the dawning of the gay rights movement thirty years before, gays and lesbians had been engaged on numerous fronts to establish protections against harassment and hatred, to secure equal rights, and to live with dignity. Now the issue of gay marriage was at the vanguard of the struggle. The decision Robinson waited for on the telephone in Middlebury could well be a landmark in that struggle.

Each of the participants in this political drama had followed a different path to this moment. Some of them were born and raised in Vermont. Others came from as far away as California. Some were gay. Some were straight. Many of them had emerged from the 1960s and 1970s with an idea of Vermont as a community where the individual still mattered.

Vermont was, perhaps, an unlikely setting for such a drama. This was not Castro Street or Christopher Street, the neighborhoods in San Francisco and New York where gay America had staged its sometimes flamboyant, sometimes violent, coming out. This was South Pleasant Street, a shady avenue in Middlebury, a picturesque town of 8,000 where Robinson was a partner at Langrock Sperry & Wool. It was a practice that handled all the affairs, grand and small, of a small town in a rural state. Peter Langrock, the founder of the firm, had written a book of tales from his practice that included a story about the disputed ownership of a stuffed fish.

The Langrock office was housed in a stately white nineteenth-century house situated between another law practice in another white house and the gray stone Baptist church. A florist's shop, where high school kids bought corsages for their proms, was across the street. Three buildings down, overlooking the green, was the elegant mansion built in 1802 by Gamaliel Painter, the pioneer who was one of Middlebury's founders. During the early decades of the nineteenth century Painter, a signer of Vermont's first constitution, was able to look down from the third-floor monitor-a kind of widow's walk-onto the green, the shops, and mills of the village he had helped to establish on the falls of Otter Creek.

LARRY ABBOTT was the court clerk who had called Robinson that day. He was authorized only to tell Robinson the outcome of the case, in which the Supreme Court was ruling on a lower court finding that the law limiting marriage to heterosexual unions was constitutional.

This is what he read: "The judgment of the superior court upholding the constitutionality of the Vermont marriage statutes under Chapter 1, Article 7 of the Vermont Constitution is reversed."

Robinson felt a surge of elation. She had won. The lower court had been reversed, and excluding gay and lesbian couples from marriage was now unconstitutional.

But Robinson listened with dismay as Abbott continued to read. "The effect of the Court's decision is suspended, and jurisdiction is retained in this Court, to permit the Legislature to consider and enact legislation consistent with the constitutional mandate described within."

Robinson was astounded.

"Larry, what does that mean?"

It was not Abbott's job to tell her what it meant. He told her the ruling would be on the court's Web site at 11 A.M.

To Robinson this was devastating news. It seemed to her like the cruelest defeat. Even so, her mind was already racing ahead. She hung up the phone and broke in on Susan Murray, who was meeting with clients in the adjacent second-floor office. Murray, 41, and Robinson had founded the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force four years before, and since then she and Robinson had mapped out a careful legal strategy and had worked assiduously to cultivate grassroots support for their cause.

They had won, Robinson told Murray, but the court had handed the issue to the Legislature. The two lawyers didn't have time to dwell on their joy or their disappointment. Pandemonium broke out at Langrock Sperry & Wool. Months ago Robinson and Murray had made arrangements with the Ramada Inn in South Burlington to use a conference room for a press conference. The whole world would know about this ruling as soon as it appeared on the court's Web site. In the next three hours they had to get up to South Burlington, thirty-five miles away, but they didn't have a clue what they were going to tell the press.

Murray, tall and affable, with flecks of gray in her dark hair, had been at Langrock Sperry & Wool since 1984. She quickly joined Robinson in trying to figure out what to do next. The two staff assistants who were prepared to help them with the press conference were both out with the flu, so the lawyers enlisted other staff members to download a copy of the ruling, get in touch with the Ramada Inn, notify the press, and track down the six plaintiffs.

Murray and Robinson represented one gay and two lesbian couples who had gone to their town and city clerks seeking marriage licenses. The clerks had politely denied all three couples, citing Vermont law and an opinion from the Vermont attorney general's office. The six had sued, and their case had ended up before the Vermont Supreme Court. These six were the public faces of the case, and they needed to be at the press conference.

Robinson and Murray decided the lawyers and clients would have to meet at the firm's Burlington office before the press conference so they could decide what to say about this mystifying decision. In the meantime, Robinson and Murray would have to read the court's ruling. The court had affirmed their clients' right to marry but had suspended its decision. It seemed they had won a victory. But what kind of victory? The news of the decision would soon be on the airwaves nationwide, but the lawyers who had won the case were caught between the joy of victory and the despair of victory deferred.

Copyright © 2004 by David Moats

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address:
Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

CONTENTS
PROLOGUE

OUR COMMON HUMANITY
BEGINNINGS
FREEDOM
FAMILY
THE CASE
THINK ANEW
ACT ANEW
A LOVER'S QUARREL
WHAT IS THE HARM?

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2008

    Equality is the message...

    Moats provides us with perhaps one of the best researched and prepared texts on the topics of gay marriage. His thoughtful phrasing and intellectual basis provides the reader with a solid basis for understanding the topic. His book reads at the pace of a thriller, and I honestly had a difficult time putting the book down. Excellent reference material for college courses on civil rights as well.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2003

    Makes for fascinating reading

    This is a timely incredible look at the cold war fought over legalizing gay marriage in Vermont. In a state with a socialist in the Congress and the first state to outlaw slavery, Rutland Herald editor David Moats builds a historical account by answering his question: 'How did such a thing happen in Vermont?' The background history leading up to the legislative decision to legally allow gay marriages is fascinating as strange bedfellows emerge. For instance, the State Supreme Court provided a confusing decision on the issue when it stated that banning gay marriage violated the Common Benefits Clause of the Vermont Constitution, but punted the issue to the legislature. Libertarians who prefer the government to stay out of the lives of the people joins the Conservatives supporting a ban. Then there is politician and then Governor Dean to add a bit of ironic spice to the account.......................... Though well written and fascinating slice of local history that impacts on a national scale, it is the everyday people commenting during a legislative public hearing that makes CIVIL WARS: A BATTLE FOR GAY MARRIAGE into a must read. The angst on those in loving relationships with same sex partners is unbelievable. Mr. Moats has written a tremendous account that profiles courage as showcased by Ms. Underwood¿s short but passionate plea (less than 1% of the book) that will move even a homophobic Neanderthal. Mr. Moats celebrates American democracy at its best with no psychological profiling, pollsters making policy of don¿t ask-don¿t tell, or spin doctors providing bushels of pap. Instead this is candor grassroots everyday people in action...................... Harriet Klausner

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)