Cover image for Gaylaw : challenging the apartheid of the closet
Gaylaw : challenging the apartheid of the closet
Eskridge, William N., Jr., 1951-
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
ix, 470 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
KF4754.5 .E84 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This text provides a comprehensive analysis of the legal issues concerning gender and sexual nonconformity in the United States. Part one, which covers the years from the post-Civil War to the 1980s, is a history of state efforts to discipline and punish the behaviour of homosexuals and other people considered to be deviant. during this period such people could get by only at the cost of suppressing their most basic feelings and emotions. Part two addresses contemporary issues. although it is no longer illegal to be openly gay in America, homosexuals still suffer from state discrimination in the military and in other realms, and private discrimination and violence against gays is prevalent. The author presents a rigorously argued case for the sexualization of the First Amendment, showing why, for example, same-sex ceremonies and intimacy should be considered expressive conduct deserving the protection of the courts.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Defining "gaylaw" as the ongoing history of judicial regulations regarding gender and sexual nonconformity, Eskridge (law, Yale Univ.) provides an exhaustive chronicle of legal constraints upon sexual orientation and gender status. The book opens with an overview of the post-Civil War treatment of people who violated societal norms of gender or sexuality. In this section, Eskridge emphasizes the dubious nature of statements claiming that the equality for sexual minorities would endanger majority values. Part 2 stresses why the legal perpetuation of "apartheid of the closet" demands re-evaluation. A prominent goal of the author's work is to develop a political and legal response to the judiciary's rejection of full rights of privacy, equality, and free speech under constitutional guidelines. Eskridge closes by vehemently arguing for the recognition of gays in families, employment, and religion. Copious appendixes detailing state and municipal regulations, statistics, and notes, bolster the research value of this volume. Highly recommended.ÄMichael A. Lutes, Univ. of Notre Dame Libs., IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Eskridge (law, Yale Univ.) provides an exhaustive account of the evolution of 20th-century American law as it pertains to gay people. With the emergent recognition in the late 19th century of a homosexual orientation and identity, American law initiated a long process of pushing gay people into a restrictive "closet" that set them apart. The first section of the book examines three distinctive periods (1880-1946; 1946-61; and 1961-81) during which American society developed formal policies regarding homosexuality, and gay people began to organize themselves in response to these policies. In the second section the author explores in some depth the landmark Hardwick decision, First Amendment issues, and consequences of enduring prejudices toward homosexuals. The final section of the book examines some paradoxes arising out of the notion of sexual consent, the implications of a new form of family, and the role of religion in the societal response to homosexuality. Eskridge's overriding purpose is to document a case for continued reforming of law, in the spirit of true liberalism, and to extend true equality to homosexuals. This landmark work belongs in all libraries. Extensive appendixes. General readers; upper-division undergraduates and above. D. O. Friedrichs; University of Scranton

Table of Contents

I The Apartheid of the Closet
Masquerade and the Law, 1880-1946
Kulturkampf and the Threatening Closet, 1946-1961
Coming Out and Challenging the Closet, 1961-1981
II Remnants of the Closet (Don't Ask, Don't Tell)
Hardwick and Historiography
The Sexualized First Amendment
Multivocal Prejudices and Homo Equality
III After the Closet: Queer Theory and the Sexual State
Sexual Consent Paradoxes
Beyond Families We Choose
Religion and Homosexuality: Equality Practice
Appendixes Regulating Sexual and Gender Variation in the United States
A Early Municipal and State Regulation
State Consensual Sodomy Laws, 1610-1998
Municipal Sex Offense Ordinances, 1850-1950
State Criminal Laws Protecting the Sexuality of Male as Well as Female Minors, 1870-1970
B Modern State and Municipal Regulation
State Sexual Psychopath Laws, 1935-1961
State and Municipal Laws against Sexual Orientation Discrimination, 1972-1998
State and Federal Policies Discriminating on the Basis of Sexual or Gender Variation, 1998
C Statistics
Sodomy Arrests, Twelve American Cities, 1875-1965
Reported"Sodomy" Cases, 1880-1995
"Degenerates" Arraigned in New York City's Magistrates' Courts, 1915-1962
Sex Offense Arrests in St
Louis, 1874-1946
Military Personnel Discharged on Grounds of Homosexuality, 1947-1998
Sexual Outlaws Debarred from Entering the United States by Immigration Authorities, 1892-1956