The Politics of Same-Sex Marriage

The Politics of Same-Sex Marriage

The Politics of Same-Sex Marriage

The Politics of Same-Sex Marriage


Same-sex marriage emerged in 2004 as one of the hottest issues of the campaign season. But in a severe blow to gay rights advocates, all eleven states that had the issue on the ballot passed amendments banning the practice, and the subject soon dropped off the media's radar. This pattern of waxing and waning in the public eye has characterized the debate over same-sex marriage since 1996 and the passing of the Defense of Marriage Act. Since then, court rulings and local legislatures have kept the issue alive in the political sphere, and conservatives and gay rights advocates have made the issue a key battlefield in the culture wars.

The Politics of Same-Sex Marriage brings together an esteemed list of scholars to explore all facets of this heated issue, including the ideologies and strategies on both sides of the argument, the public's response, the use of the issue in political campaigns, and how same-sex marriage fits into the broad context of policy cycles and windows of political opportunity. With comprehensive coverage from a variety of different approaches, this volume will be a vital sourcebook for activists, politicians, and scholars alike.


In 2006 same-sex marriage replaced abortion as the focal issue of cultural conflict. Conservative activists have marched in Washington and barraged the U.S. Senate with letters in support of a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples. Gay and lesbian rights activists have also marched and lobbied and have gone to court to challenge state and local laws that bar them from marrying. The battle over marriage has involved all branches and levels of government and has been the subject of statewide referenda.

Students at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and at Georgetown University are very interested in the issue and frequently have strong normative views. But they frequently find the politics of same-sex marriage confusing. This is not surprising, for the issue is quite complex.

First, same-sex marriage is both a new issue on the national and state political agendas and an extension of a much longer set of policy debates that stretches back for several decades. In many ways, the quest for the . . .

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