Marriage Equality From Outlaws to In-Laws William N. Eskridge, Christopher R. Riano

Publication date:
22 Sep 2020
Yale University Press
1040 pages: 235 x 156 x 64mm
24 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

Winner of the 2021 ABA Silver Gavel Award: The definitive history of the marriage equality debate in the United States, praised by Library Journal as "beautifully and accessibly written. . . . An essential work.”

"[A] magnum opus about the political and legal path to Obergefell."—Eric Cervini, New York Times Book Review

"[An] impressive survey of how far the gay rights movement has come."—Publishers Weekly

As a legal scholar who first argued in the early 1990s for a right to gay marriage, William N. Eskridge Jr. has been on the front lines of the debate over same‑sex marriage for decades. In this book, Eskridge and his coauthor, Christopher R. Riano, offer a panoramic and definitive history of America’s marriage equality debate. The authors explore the deeply religious, rabidly political, frequently administrative, and pervasively constitutional features of the debate and consider all angles of its dramatic history. While giving a full account of the legal and political issues, the authors never lose sight of the personal stories of the people involved, or of the central place the right to marry holds in a person’s ability to enjoy the dignity of full citizenship. This is not a triumphalist or one‑sided book but a thoughtful history of how the nation wrestled with an important question of moral and legal equality.

William N. Eskridge Jr. is the John A. Garver Professor of Jurisprudence at Yale Law School. Christopher R. Riano is the executive director of the Center for Civic Education and a lecturer in constitutional law and government at Columbia University.

"[A] magnum opus about the political and legal path to Obergefell."—Eric Cervini, New York Times Book Review

Winner of the 2021 Silver Gavel Award, sponsored by the American Bar Association

“A comprehensive, thought-provoking, and compelling account of the fight for marriage equality in the United States. The authors deftly outline the history and ultimate downfall of marriage exclusion policies. A must read!”—Alphonso David, President of the Human Rights Campaign

"An extraordinary account of the nation’s awakening to LGBTQ people and the struggle for marriage equality.  With portraits of participants on both sides, strategic revelations, and accessible analysis covering decades, we see how change happens and the challenges ahead."—Mary Bonauto, attorney at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders

"Eskridge and Riano provide the definitive account of one of the most important transformations in American history: how same-sex marriage became legal in the USA. Their insightful report is a classic."—Lynn D. Wardle, Professor of Law Emeritus, Brigham Young University

“This monumental account of all aspects of the marriage equality movement—judicial, legislative, political, and social—is scholarly while intensely personal, informed by interviews of committed couples, legislators, lawyers, judges.”—Ronald M. George, Chief Justice of California (1996-2011)

"To win the freedom to marry, we needed a shared strategy, a sustained campaign, and a movement of many methodologies and players. Bursting with colorful unearthed details and kaleidoscopic, often divergent perspectives, Marriage Equality: From Outlaws to In-Laws richly portrays the multiplicity within that movement and the epic transformation we achieved in hearts and minds—and then the law."—Evan Wolfson, founder, Freedom to Marry