Title: Case For Same Sex Marriage: From Sexual Liberty to Civilized Commitment
Author: William N. Eskridge
Publisher: Free Press
Nice introduction to the history of gay marriage
Interesting perspective on the civilizing aspect of marriage
A bit dated by this point, but doesnt suffer too badly
Analysis of the legal, social, and historical status of gay marriages
Argues that gay marriages are not new and that banning them is improper
Explains how marriage can civilize both the couples involved and society as a whole
The concept of civilize can be used in a number of different ways. It can have a narrow legal sense which refers to moving an issue from criminal to civil law; it can also refer to integrating something into a societys laws or customs, and it can describe a process of making tame or domesticated. All of these meanings come into play in William N. Eskridges book Case For Same Sex Marriage: From Sexual Liberty to Civilized Commitment.
Eskridges basic argument is that gay marriage is good for both gays and for society, an important consideration when most arguments in favor of gay marriage tend to focus just on need for gays to be granted equal rights. As Eskridge is able to demonstrate, there is more at stake here than just whether gays are treated equally. Denying them justice diminishes both them and the rest of the community, which means that this is something we should all care deeply about.
- The states themselves advertise marriage as an institution fundamentally linked to political citizenship. Wisconsins marriage statute codifies the understanding of marriage that recurs in the case law: Marriage is the institution that is the foundation of the family and of society. Its stability is basic to morality and civilization, and of vital interest to society and the state. Consistent with this philosophy, the states are not discriminating about who can partake of this institution. It is open to any consenting nonrelated couple except any lesbian or gay couple.
Most people take marriage for granted. Almost everyone grows up assuming that they may be able to find the one true love of their lives and marry them the idea of the state telling them they cant marry the person they love simply doesnt occur to them. Convicted felons, people still in prison, parents who dont to pay child support, delinquent taxpayers, fascists, communists, child molesters, and murderers can all get married. Gays, however, cannot.
There are a number of arguments offered for why gays shouldnt be allowed to marry: homosexuality is unnatural, marriage exists for procreation, gay marriages will undermine the institution of marriage, etc. Eskridge examines each of these in turn and effectively refutes them, demonstrating that in almost every case the real reason is simple bigotry toward gays.