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Below the Radar: How Silence Can Save Civil Rights - Studies in Postwar American Political Development (Hardback)
  • Below the Radar: How Silence Can Save Civil Rights - Studies in Postwar American Political Development (Hardback)

Below the Radar: How Silence Can Save Civil Rights - Studies in Postwar American Political Development (Hardback)

Hardback 280 Pages / Published: 09/07/2015
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In 1993 the nation exploded into anti-same sex marriage fervor when the Hawaii Supreme Court issued its decision to support marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. Opponents feared that all children, but especially those raised by lesbian or gay couples, would be harmed by the possibility of same-sex marriage-and warned of the consequences for society at large. Congress swiftly enacted the Defense of Marriage Act-defining marriage as between a man and a woman-and many states followed suit. By 2006 much of the United States was cloaked in constitutional amendments barring same-sex marriage. Almost a decade before the Hawaii court issued their decision, however, several courts in several states had granted gay and lesbian couples co-parenting status-permitting each individual in the couple to be legally recognized as joint parents over their children. By 2006, courts in over half the states had issued decisions supporting gay and lesbian co-parenting-with far less public aggression than on the marriage front. What accounts for the stark difference in reactions to two contemporaneous same-sex family policy fights? This book argues that advocacy visibility has played a significant role in determining whether advocacy efforts become mired in conflict or bypass hostile backlash politics. Same-sex parenting advocates are not alone in crafting low-visibility advocacy strategies to ward off opposition efforts. Those who operate, reside in, and advocate for group homes serving individuals with disabilities have also used below-the-radar strategies to diminish the damage cause by NIMBY (Not in my back yard) responses to their requests to move into single-family neighborhoods. Property owners have resorted to slander, subterfuge, and even arson to discourage group homes from locating in their neighborhoods, and, for some advocates, secrecy provides the best elixir. Together these stories provide a glimpse of the prophylactic and palliative potential of low-visibility advocacy.

Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
ISBN: 9780190201159
Number of pages: 280
Weight: 500 g
Dimensions: 235 x 162 x 24 mm

Based on a rich new history of debates surrounding civil rights struggles, Below the Radar revises the conventional wisdom that rights crusaders gained ground only by shifting from the court of law to the court of public opinion. Gash shows that low-profile legal advocacy proved an essential strategy for marginalized groups that might otherwise have faced crippling backlash, and inspires us to reconsider not just the relationship between the courts and social change but also the role of surreptitiousness in securing the promise of an open democracy. * Jacob S. Hacker, Yale University *
A bold and innovative study of two crucial civil rights struggles, same-sex parenting and group home advocacy-wherein advocates largely intentionally avoided the sort of hostile reaction that often accompanies court decisions in civil rights cases-Below the Radar persuasively demonstrates that in some settings, low-visibility strategies may well be the most effective way to promote social justice. * Kimberle W. Crenshaw, UCLA School of Law *
For decades, scholars of law and politics have studied how advocates use public interest litigation to bring visibility and public support to struggles for justice. Gash's outstanding book reveals the silent mirror image of this phenomenon, exploring how quiet but successful campaigns for legal reform can build the foundation for new rights structures - or avert a destructive backlash against the disempowered group these advocates represent. * Julie Novkov, University at Albany, SUNY *
While same-sex marriage litigation was getting all the headlines, Alison Gash shows that a quieter legal campaign for the rights of gays and lesbians to adopt children was advancing almost unnoticed. With this well-written, incisive book, Gash has added a new dimension to the study of courts and social policy. * Tom Burke, Wellesley College *
In this engagingly written book, Alison Gash lays out a thoughtful and provocative analysis of the politics of backlash. Her unwinding of this phenomenon is an invaluable contribution that should significantly influence how we think about using litigation to achieve social change. * Stephen Engel, Bates College *
A groundbreaking study that compares the efficacy of high and low visibility legal strategies in civil rights struggles. Insightful, elegantly written, and powerfully argued, Below the Radar is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the politics of rights, litigation , and social movements in the United States and beyond. * Jeb Barnes, University of Southern California *

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