Cover image for Equality practice : civil unions and the future of gay rights
Equality practice : civil unions and the future of gay rights
Eskridge, William N., Jr., 1951-
Publication Information:
New York : Routledge, [2002]

Physical Description:
xvi, 280 pages ; 23 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ76.3.U5 E85 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



William Eskridge, a Yale law professor chronicles the Vermont law which legalised civil unions - distinct from marriage - for same sex couples.

Author Notes

William N. Eskridge, Jr. is the John A. Garver Professor of Jurisprudence at Yale Law School and author of the landmark book The Case for Same Sex Marriage. His last book, Gaylaw, won the 2001 American Library Association's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Book Award

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

While more gay couples are saying, "I do," federal and state governments are still resolutely saying, "You can't." This judicious and discerning analysis of the legal, social and ethical debate over same-sex marriage comes down squarely on the side of recognition of gay and lesbian relationships, but argues that the model of civil unions enacted by Vermont in 2000 (giving gay couples the legal rights of marriage without the name) is a more winnable fight. Eskridge, a professor of jurisprudence at Yale (and an openly gay man), carefully explicates Baehr v. Lewin (the Hawaiian case that nearly allowed same-sex marriage), the domestic partnership movement, same-sex marriage fights in other countries and the passing of the Defense of Marriage Act in Congress, which prohibits the federal government from acknowledging state-recognized gay marriage. Distinct from radicalism (forcing gay marriage through the law) or traditionalism (refusing to accept any change in established marriage), Eskridge argues for what he calls "equality practice," which "does not entail immediate equality," but is a "process by which gay people are working for their inclusion in state-recognized institutions of all sorts." Presenting and challenging a wide variety of views from right-wing ideologue Lynn Wardle to radical lesbian legal theorist Paula Ettelbrick, and relying on political and social theorists such as Michel Foucault and John Rawls, Eskridge opts for a middle road of slow progress to allow for mutual understanding. (Feb.) Forecast: This book is largely a refinement of the ideas found in Eskridge's 1996 The Case for Same-Sex Marriage. It lacks most of the conservative opinions that peppered that earlier book, but its moderate position is sure to annoy progressive gay activists and conservatives alike. The lucid but dense argumentation should restrict it to those actively hashing out the issues and to larger university collections. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Eskridge provides a thoroughly detailed history of same-sex marriages and civil unions in the US. He compares the histories and policies enacted in other developed countries, especially useful when examining the various theories (e.g., John Rawls's liberal theory; Michael Sandel's communitarian theory; and postmodern theory) that underscore the variance of policy and practice concerning unions (or lack thereof) for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered couples. Eskridge does a phenomenal job of reiterating central themes throughout the book: e.g., the politics of recognition and preservation; legislative policy and court decisions; and the effects of language--civil unions versus same-sex marriages versus domestic partnerships versus cohabitation. Based on his evidence, Eskridge staunchly believes "same-sex marriage may be an idea whose time is coming." Editing errors, especially in the first half of the book, distract from the book's content. This work compares favorably with Robert Wintemute and Mads Andenaes's Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Partnerships (2001). All academic collections. K. M. Jamieson Ashland University

Table of Contents

Prologue and Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Chapter 1 Same-Sex Marriage and the Politics of Sexualityp. 1
Chapter 2 The Vermont Civil Unions Lawp. 43
Chapter 3 Comparative Law Lessons for the Same-Sex Marriage Movementp. 83
Chapter 4 Civil Unions and Liberal Jurisprudence: Equality Practicep. 127
Chapter 5 Equality Practice and the Civic Republicp. 159
Chapter 6 Equality Practice as a Postmodern Cultural Formp. 197
Epilogue: Equality Practice, the Evolution of Social Norms, and the Future of Gay Rightsp. 231
Notesp. 243
Indexp. 269