Gay Marriage: for Better or for Worse?: What We've Learned from the Evidence

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Opponents of same-sex marriage in the United States often claim that allowing gays and lesbians to marry will lead to the downfall of the institution of marriage and will harm children. Drawing from 16 years of data and experience with same-sex unions in Scandinavia, Gay Marriage: For Better or for Worse? is the first book to present empirical evidence about the results of same-sex marriage (in the form of registered partnerships) from the Nordic countries. Spedale and Eskridge demonstrate that conservative defense-of-marriage arguments that predict negative effects from gay marriage are invalid, and the Scandinavian experience suggests that the institution of marriage may indeed benefit from the enactment of gay marriage. If we look at the proof from abroad, the authors argue, we must conclude that the sanctioning of gay marriage in the United States would neither undermine marriage as an institution, nor harm the wellbeing of our nation's children.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A treasure trove of statistics, laws, and sources, useful for any social science student...Anyone hoping to be an educated commentator or student of same-sex marriage in Europe or America should read Gay Marriage. In particular, political science students would find it useful for detailed discussions of how interest groups interact to promote or resist social change in other nations. Students in sociology and gay studies classes would find the cross-cultural discussion quite helpful."—Journal of the History of Sexuality

"For a long time, we've needed a good scholarly account of the effects of same-sex marriage on marriage and society as a whole. Now we have it. This eye-opening book is a must-read for anyone interested in the continuing debate over same-sex marriage."—Andrew Sullivan, author of Virtually Normal

"Whatever your views are now on same-sex marriage, this is the book to read to be informed about why same sex couples want legal recognition and what legal union means to them and to the larger community. Eskridge and Spedale give detailed accounts of the effects of registered partnerships in Scandinavia—and along the way, offer fascinating and engaging pictures of many people's lives. Fundamentally, this book raises the bar and now no responsible discussion can proceed without addressing actual evidence from the countries with long experience giving same-sex relationships legal recognition."—Martha Minow, Jeremiah Smith Jr. Professor, Harvard Law School

"Eskridge and Spedale illuminate with remarkable even-handedness a debate that tends to generate more heat than light. They provide a cogent analysis of conservative arguments that same-sex matrimony threatens conventional marriage, and argue persuasively that enabling same-sex partners to marry may actually strengthen that beleaguered institution."—John Podesta, former White House Chief of Staff, currently President and CEO, Center for American Progress

"Eskridge and Spedale have given us an important and timely contribution to the debates about same-sex marriage. This book convincingly shows why the best policy (and the best politics) would be to support individuals and the families they form, however those families are constituted. It should be required reading for anyone interested in the future of families in America."—Martha Albertson Fineman, Robert W. Woodruff Professor, Emory Law School

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195326970
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/11/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,516,383
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Darren R. Spedale is an investment banker in New York City. He spent two years on a Fulbright Fellowship in Denmark researching Scandinavian same-sex partnerships. He received his J.D. and M.B.A. degrees from Stanford University, and continues his work on same-sex marriage through his pro bono activities. William N. Eskridge, Jr. is the John A. Garver Professor of Jurisprudence at the Yale Law School. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including The Case for Same-Sex Marriage, Dynamic Statutory Interpretation, and Gaylaw: Challenging the Apartheid of the Closet.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : toward a brave new world 3
1 The evolving same-sex marriage debate in the United States 11
2 The same-sex marriage debate in Scandinavia and the rest of Europe 43
3 A new look for legal unions : sixteen years of Scandinavian partnerships and the changing conception of family 91
4 The benefits of same-sex marriage : lessons from Scandinavia 131
5 Modern Scandinavian families and the defense-of-marriage argument 169
6 Drawing lines : Scandinavian lessons for the American marriage debate 203
Epilogue : I now pronounce you ... : an emerging menu of relationship options 251
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