The Engagement: America’s Quarter-Century Struggle over Same-Sex Marriage

Pantheon. Jun. 2021. 928p. ISBN 9781524748739. $40. POL SCI
Issenberg (The Victory Lab) explores the history of marriage equality in the United States from 1990 to 2015, arguing that prior to 1990, marriage equality was a niche issue confined to legal speculation, as advocates tended to focus their efforts on nondiscrimination ordinances rather than marriage. After a group of LGBT couples attempted to marry in Hawaii in 1990, marriage equality quickly became prominent owing to several high-profile court cases and opposition by religious groups. Issenberg focuses his arguments on the political and legal side, explaining the major court cases, legal strategies and legislation. The legal analysis is targeted toward general readers, and the author deftly weaves the legislative and legal together to create a full picture for readers. Issenberg argues that public opinion and media played key roles in the United States’ relatively swift acceptance of marriage equality, but he does not spend a lot of time in this area. Although chapters tend to meander, he focuses on personalities and motivations that inflate his already detailed analysis of Supreme Court cases and other political movements in support of equality.
VERDICT A comprehensive work of civil rights history that is sure to interest political and legal enthusiasts.
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