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Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial
     

Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial

by Kenji Yoshino
 

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A renowned legal scholar tells the definitive story of Hollingsworth v. Perry, the trial that will stand as the most potent argument for marriage equality

Speak Now tells the story of a watershed trial that unfolded over twelve tense days in California in 2010. A trial that legalized same-sex marriage in our most populous state. A

Overview

A renowned legal scholar tells the definitive story of Hollingsworth v. Perry, the trial that will stand as the most potent argument for marriage equality

Speak Now tells the story of a watershed trial that unfolded over twelve tense days in California in 2010. A trial that legalized same-sex marriage in our most populous state. A trial that interrogated the nature of marriage, the political status of gays and lesbians, the ideal circumstances for raising children, and the ability of direct democracy to protect fundamental rights. A trial that stands as the most potent argument for marriage equality this nation has ever seen.

In telling the story of Hollingsworth v. Perry, the groundbreaking federal lawsuit against Proposition 8, Kenji Yoshino has also written a paean to the vanishing civil trial—an oasis of rationality in what is often a decidedly uncivil debate. Above all, this book is a work of deep humanity, in which Yoshino brings abstract legal arguments to life by sharing his own story of finding love, marrying, and having children as a gay man.

Intellectually rigorous and profoundly compassionate, Speak Now will stand as the definitive account of a landmark civil-rights trial.

— Winner, Stonewall Book Award

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Lincoln Caplan
Speak Now is a hybrid—mostly an astute exegesis of the Perry trial, with Yoshino's "personal reactions" laced in, and also a tenderhearted memoir. It's an expression of gratitude for his own growth, from a troubled young man for whom "common milestones—falling in love, marrying, raising children—seemed unattainable," into a happily married father of two as a result of remarkable changes in the law beginning in 2003…Speak Now is well worth reading as a piece of advocacy by a gifted scholar. It's a friend-of-the-court brief meant for the global court of public opinion…
Library Journal
★ 04/01/2015
Yoshino (constitutional law, Columbia Univ.) has long been an astute observer-participant at the intersection of law and LGBT experience. His influential Covering documented the precarious socioeconomic and legal position of those who fail to mute the aspects of themselves marked as different. Here Yoshino returns to the interconnection of law and culture by focusing on the Hollingsworth v. Perry (2013) civil court trial which illuminated the arguments for and against legal recognition of same-sex marriages. He skillfully weaves his family's experience fighting for legal recognition with an account of the Hollingsworth lawsuit from inception to Supreme Court ruling. Drawing on the extensive legal documentation as well as interviews conducted with most of the key players, Yoshino masterfully guides lay readers through the intricate legal landscape, arguing that District Court Judge Vaughn Walker's decision to hold a full-court trial offered a unique opportunity for Americans to hear arguments for and against same-sex marriage subject to rigorous cross-examination. Yoshino's passionate and forceful prose is, as always, a delight to read. VERDICT Required reading for anyone who cares about the power of law, in particular civil trials, to expand civil rights and shape public opinion in the United States.—Anna J. Clutterbuck-Cook, Massachusetts Historical Soc. Lib., Boston
Kirkus Reviews
2015-01-28
The story of a crucial trial to legitimize same-sex marriage. As in his earlier book on civil rights, Covering (2006), legal scholar Yoshino (Constitutional Law/New York Univ. School of Law; A Thousand Times More Fair: What Shakespeare's Plays Teach Us About Justice, 2011, etc.) interweaves autobiography into a crisp, shrewd analysis of Hollingsworth v. Perry, the 12-day federal trial that considered California's Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage. A gay Asian-American, Yoshino married in 2009 as the suit was filed in California, and he and his husband became parents of a daughter and son during the four years of litigation. Centered on issues of love, commitment and family, the trial had personal as well as political and professional meaning for him. Its transcript, he writes, "captured the best conversation I had seen on same-sex marriage—better than any legislative hearing, any academic debate, or any media exchange." The transcript contained intellectually rigorous arguments, pointed cross-examination of witnesses' claims and allegations, and intense focus on points of law. Trials about gay rights issues, as one judge noted, were educational experiences that offered "an excellent opportunity to replace ignorance with knowledge." In the Prop 8 case, Judge Vaughn Walker insisted on moving quickly to trial; he also wanted the proceedings streamed live to federal courthouses and posted on YouTube—both of which were blocked by the Supreme Court. The plaintiffs were represented by Ted Olson and David Boies, who had argued against each other in Bush v. Gore. The "inspired" pairing of the two savvy strategists, the author contends, "symbolically reunited the two halves of the country." Besides chronicling testimony by experts and witnesses, Yoshino clearly explains relevant legal terms and identifies the three rationales that ultimately became prominent in the case: "optimal child rearing, the prevention of the dissolution of marriage, and the suppression of irresponsible procreation." Yoshino claims that he was riveted by the 3,000-page trial transcript; his cogent, incisive narrative is equally captivating.
From the Publisher
A Boston Globe Best Book of 2015
Winner of the 2016 ABA Silver Gavel Award for Books

“A valuable contribution….Above all, Yoshino both illuminates and lauds the trial, the ‘truth-finding mechanism’ that puts claims of social convention, distinctions between groups and academic expertise to the test of the adversarial process.” 
—SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

"An astute exegesis of the Perry trial [and] a tenderhearted memoir...Lucid, subtle and illuminating...A friend-of-the-court brief meant for the global court of public opinion."
NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

"Stirring...Yoshino writes elegantly and compellingly about the background and lead-up to the case...A story that's both timely and durable."
BOSTON GLOBE

“Precision and compassion are frequently opposed, but Kenji Yoshino writes with almost fanatical clarity about the vulnerabilities of the human heart.  His hard-won ability to imbue intellectual conundrums with moral certainty, his meticulous reporting on legal mechanisms and procedures, and his willingness to acknowledge his personal interest in Perry without indulging it to boost his arguments are all signs of his penetrating mind and dignified spirit. His exquisite restraint and quiet eloquence imbue this book, which is as much a triumph of poetry as it is of legal reasoning.”  
ANDREW SOLOMON, author of Far from the Tree
 
“Kenji Yoshino combines, in a breathtakingly beautiful way, the personal and legal aspects of the battle for marriage equality. The result is a poignant and powerful book that triumphs both as a human drama and a celebration of the judicial process. By the end, I had tears in my eyes.”           
WALTER ISAACSON, author of The Innovators
 
Speak Now is a beautifully and scrupulously written account of why facts matter, why trials matter, and why courts are well situated to unearth complex truths. It’s also a story of why love matters and how the law – at its best – makes love visible to the rest of us."
DAHLIA LITHWICK, legal correspondent, Slate
 
Kenji Yoshino’s Speak Now proves anew that marriage is that sacred place where love meets law. This glorious human rights story, elegantly recounted by one whose own life has been transformed, should change forever the global conversation about the real meaning of same-sex marriage.”
—HAROLD HONGJU KOH, Sterling Professor of International Law, Yale Law School
 
“In this marvelously intricate tale of ‘two civil ceremonies’—a marriage and a trial—Kenji Yoshino offers brilliant insights into the ways a well-run civil trial can serve as an engine of cultural awakening.”
LAURENCE TRIBE, Carl M. Loeb University Professor, Harvard University
 
“Not only a compelling and deeply felt account of the first federal same-sex marriage trial, Speak Now is a rich courtroom drama that attests to the transformative power of law.” 
LINDA GREENHOUSE, Joseph Goldstein Lecturer in Law, Yale Law School; New York Times contributing writer
 
“Beautifully crafted…A celebration of the power of the adversarial system, at its best, to distinguish fact from bombast. In Kenji Yoshino Hollingsworth v. Perry has found its ideal chronicler.
ANTHONY APPIAH, author of The Honor Code; Professor of Philosophy and Law, New York University
 
Speak Now shows how trial courts are uniquely well positioned to evaluate the truth or falsehood of ‘legislative facts’—broad empirical propositions that are often politically contested—in ways that can advance equality and liberty. ‘Let there be a trial,’ Yoshino concludes, and by vividly describing the gay rights trial of the new century, he has created a gripping and memorable constitutional narrative.”
JEFFREY ROSEN, President & CEO, National Constitution Center; Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School
 
"The beauty and elegance of Yoshino's writing about law at times stops you short. There will likely be no more important trial about same-sex marriage than Hollingsworth v. Perry and there will likely be no more important book about that trial than this one.”
DALE CARPENTER, author of Flagrant Conduct; Earl R. Larson Professor of Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Law, University of Minnesota Law School
 
“Kenji Yoshino seamlessly weaves together the story of the landmark litigation over same-sex marriage in California, incisive insights about the power of trials, and personal reflections about his own marriage and parenting. The result is a captivating introduction to the issues of fact, law, and meaning surrounding marriage equality.”
MARTHA MINOW, Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor, Harvard Law School
 
 “Eloquent, lucid, and profoundly moving…Yoshino demonstrates how the careful and respectful procedures of the courtroom can separate fact from prejudice, and perhaps even allow the distilled light of reality to mend passionate social divisions. He has written a compelling tale for our zealous and polarized times.”
—ROBERT POST, Dean and Sol & Lillian Professor of Law, Yale Law School

Speak Now is a book every law student should read…It does for civil litigation and equal protection what Gideon's Trumpet did for criminal adjudication and the right to counsel: marrying a gripping case study with a broader understanding of how law develops.”
PAM KARLAN, Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law, Stanford Law School
 
Speak Now is a uniquely thoughtful account of one of the most important legal trials of our generation, from someone who truly understands the movement for equality. Part history lesson, part personal narrative, part analysis—all from a brilliant legal mind.”
RICHARD SOCARIDES, former Senior Adviser to President Bill Clinton
 
 “A stirring paean to the critical role of the rule of law—and the beauty of reason—in the cause of justice.”
—LINDA HIRSHMAN, author of Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution

“Yoshino has long been an astute observer-participant at the intersection of law and LGBT experience…He skillfully weaves his family’s experience fighting for legal recognition with an account of the [Perry] lawsuit from inception to Supreme Court ruling [and] masterfully guides lay readers through the intricate legal landscape…Yoshino’s passionate and forceful prose is, as always, a delight to read.”
—LIBRARY JOURNAL, starred review

“A crisp, shrewd analysis of Hollingsworth v. Perry...Yoshino claims that he was riveted by the 3,000-page trial transcript; his cogent, incisive narrative is equally captivating.”
—KIRKUS REVIEWS

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385348805
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
04/21/2015
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
908,279
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.70(d)

Meet the Author

Kenji Yoshino is the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at New York University School of Law.  A graduate of Yale Law School, where he taught from 1998 to 2008, he is the author of Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights and A Thousand Times More Fair: What Shakespeare's Plays Teach Us About Justice. Yoshino's writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. He lives in New York with his husband and two children.

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