Awakening: How Gays and Lesbians Brought Marriage Equality to America (Hardback)Nathaniel Frank (author)
The right of same-sex couples to marry provoked decades of intense conflict before it was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015. Yet some of the most divisive contests shaping the quest for marriage equality occurred not on the culture-war front lines but within the ranks of LGBTQ advocates. Nathaniel Frank tells the dramatic story of how an idea that once seemed unfathomable—and for many gays and lesbians undesirable—became a legal and moral right in just half a century.
Awakening begins in the 1950s, when millions of gays and lesbians were afraid to come out, let alone fight for equality. Across the social upheavals of the next two decades, a gay rights movement emerged with the rising awareness of the equal dignity of same-sex love. A cadre of LGBTQ lawyers soon began to focus on legal recognition for same-sex couples, if not yet on marriage itself. It was only after being pushed by a small set of committed lawyers and grassroots activists that established movement groups created a successful strategy to win marriage in the courts.
Marriage equality proponents then had to win over members of their own LGBTQ community who declined to make marriage a priority, while seeking to rein in others who charged ahead heedless of their carefully laid plans. All the while, they had to fight against virulent antigay opponents and capture the American center by spreading the simple message that love is love, ultimately propelling the LGBTQ community—and America—immeasurably closer to justice.
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Number of pages: 456
Dimensions: 235 x 156 mm
A truly impressive, nuanced, fair account…It relays the lung-filling highs and stomach-churning lows of the long trek toward gay dignity. Better still, it brings into focus the small band of disparate individuals who somehow brought what was unimaginable into reality. Many people think marriage was won overnight. This book proves it wasn’t. But its chief merit is that it explains for straight people and the younger gay and lesbian generations just how deeply divisive this issue was in the gay world for so long…It’s easy, in the wake of victory, to forget that story—but Frank covers its nuances better than anything else I’ve read. And he gives everyone their due…[An] indispensable account. - Andrew Sullivan, New York
Awakening reports meticulously on the gay and lesbian lawyers who envisioned and ran the fight for marriage and the funders who helped put the effort over the finish line, carefully recounting the legal arguments and opinions all along the way…Frank gets it down and gets it right. He has clearly mastered every document, interviewed every principal, detailed every legal argument and given credit where it’s due. His book is the text from which other histories will be written, and the textbook from which future impact litigation and advocacy will be planned. - E. J. Graff, Washington Post
With great skill and vivid reporting, Frank analyzes the evolution in legal understanding and public opinion that resulted in remarkable change over a short period of time…[A] sweeping account…As one of the first books to chronicle the campaign for marriage equality, Awakening offers a rich and rewarding discussion that covers much ground. - Diana Selig, Los Angeles Review of Books
Frank paints the obstacle-filled path to the Supreme Court’s decision, highlighting key characters (known and lesser-known) who worked to push their visions of equality forward, and those who stood steadfast in their way…Frank’s latest book affirms his far-reaching expertise on the LGBTQ movement. The book is brimming with details of the ‘countless incremental changes’ and historical forces that shaped ‘dramatic shifts in attitudes about same-sex love.’…A rewarding read. - Claire Sasko, Philadelphia Inquirer
Might very well be the definitive book about the history of the struggle over same-sex marriage in the U.S. - Brian Bromberger, Bay Area Reporter
A comprehensive look at the decades-long fight for marriage equality, and how some of the biggest challenges came not from the culture wars but from within the ranks of LGBTQ activists who weren’t convinced they needed to make marriage equality a priority. - Mackenzie Dawson, New York Post
Frank uncovers the history behind the political uprising of the LGBTQ community leading to the passing of equal marriage in the United States…Frank’s new book comes at a time when the country has taken a hit from the election of Donald Trump much like the LGBTQ community did in 2008 [with the passing of Proposition 8]. As the people of the United States rise to revolt, they take yet another page from LGBTQ people who rose to action for marriage equality. - Annnette Semerdjian, The Pride L.A.
Frank provides the kind of account that makes for fascinating reading. He correctly places the beginning of the marriage movement in the LGBTQ community’s grassroots and notes that the desire to wed among gay and lesbian couples began decades before any of the community’s advocacy groups conceived of suing for marriage or lobbying any state legislature to enact it…Frank also discusses the debates that occurred among the attorneys who brought marriage lawsuits about where to sue, when to sue, and what arguments to make…An excellent read and an important book on the marriage movement. - Duncan Osborne, Gay City News
It is a powerful, vastly rich and moving narrative, with a cast of thousands, stretching from the 1950s to the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 affirming the rights of same-sex couples to marry. While this is, of course, a book about law and legislation, about cases and courts, it is far more about the people involved: the lawyers and lawmakers, the activists, the ‘ordinary’ gay men and women seeking recognition of their love. Awakening is a captivating read because of this. - Steven Vaughan, Times Higher Education
Awakening traces the dramatic struggles that finally resulted in same-sex couples winning one of the most important rights of citizenship: the right to marry and have their marriage recognized by state and federal governments. In our present climate of political uncertainty, Nathaniel Frank's gripping history of the tenacity and determination of lesbian and gay people will serve as vital inspiration for whatever battles may lie ahead. - Lillian Faderman, author of The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle
Nathaniel Frank has written the definitive account of how the United States went from every state prohibiting homosexual activity in 1961 to every state allowing marriage equality for gays and lesbians in 2015. It is an amazing story filled with compelling figures and many triumphs and setbacks. Frank tells the story masterfully in beautiful prose that made this book impossible to put down, even though I already knew the ending. - Erwin Chemerinsky, University of California, Irvine School of Law
How did a pipe dream in 1990 become a reality by 2015? Nathaniel Frank traces the concatenation of disparate forces—the steadfast believers, the infighting, the allies, the happenstances—maneuvering through over twenty years of setbacks to gain the goal of marriage equality for same-sex couples. There's no better account of this phenomenal social and legal movement than Frank's gripping narrative, rendered in fluid prose backed by deep research and thoughtful analysis. - Nancy F. Cott, author of Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation
As the battle for same-sex marriage in the United States slides into history, it has found a powerful chronicler in Nathaniel Frank. Even those steeped in the gay rights movement will find much to admire in the novelistic detail and scholarly erudition that distinguish this book. - Kenji Yoshino, author of Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial
Nathaniel Frank has written the much-needed definitive history of how gay people and gay lawyers fought for the right to marry and won. It’s a story of courage, determination, and lots of smart strategizing, very much worth telling for its own sake, and full of key lessons for other social movements. - Emily Bazelon, author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy
Frank’s attention to historic detail is comprehensive and impressive, as is his ability to breezily recapture the trials of marriage equality and weave them into the general narrative of American LGBTQ history. With verve and a crisp, authoritative tone, the author sweeps readers through a history of civil rights campaigning in the 1970s, domestic partnership ordinances in the ’80s, and the story of how AIDS and protest movements produced an unshakeable solidarity…Frank’s strikingly detailed, essential reportage reminds readers of the gay community’s enduring fight for equality. - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Unlike most histories of gay marriage, Frank’s account dates back to the postwar era, setting itself within the context of the larger social history of the entire movement for gay rights…Readers will find it to be an accessible and worthwhile read. - David Azzolina, Library Journal
A fascinating account of the modern battle for equality. - Matt Baume, Vice
In providing a detailed and authoritative account of the marriage equality movement, Frank helps to ensure that this vital story will remain embedded in public consciousness. - William Kuby, Journal of the History of Sexuality
Substantive and most insightful…A remarkable and engrossing account of how an idea that once seemed unfathomable for many gays and lesbians became a legal, even more so, a moral right in just half a century…It is essential reading for anyone interested in the nature and history of marriage, and the struggle of gay and lesbian individuals to reach equal rights under the law and equal respect in the minds of most Americans. - Frederick J. Parrella, Marriage, Families & Spirituality
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