A careful argument for same-sex marriage that answers a range of objections. Eskridge, a law professor (Georgetown Law Center) who served as a co-counsel in a federal gay-marriage case, writes eloquently in favor of same-sex marriage. Not only does he answer some of the mainstream's reservations (marriage is only for procreation, allowing marriage goes beyond tolerance of homosexuality and forces society to approve of it, etc.), he also addresses some objections from within the gay community. For example, to critics who claim that marriage is inherently patriarchal, he argues that, since there is no gender-based inequality between same-sex partners, legalizing their marriages could provide a model for democratizing the whole institution. He also discusses same-sex unions throughout history and in a range of non-Western cultures, including China, the Sudan, and other parts of Africa, showing that it is only in the modern West that these unions have been so strongly prohibited. In an appendix, Eskridge includes endorsements of gay marriage from clerics of various denominations. Some readers will find Eskridge a bit righteous. The haughty tone of his subtitle is not absent from the text; it is clear that he thinks monogamous, committed relationships are morally better than others. The idea that gay people have good reason to be suspicious of any state endorsement of a particular form of sexuality does not get a fair hearing here. However, the author makes a sound case for the notion that without marriage, gay people are second-class citizens. Eskridge has studied the opposition and answered it lucidly, though his book might be more palatable if it were less moralistic.
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