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Gay Rights and American Law


  • 24 tables
  • Page extent: 366 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.632 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 342.73/087
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: KF4754.5 .P56 2003
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Gays--Legal status, laws, etc.--United States
    • Gays--Legal status, laws, etc.--United States--Cases

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521812740 | ISBN-10: 0521812747)

Gay Rights and American Law investigates how American appellate courts dealt with the struggle for lesbian and gay civil rights during the last two decades of the twentieth century. The study is grounded on an exhaustive database of both federal and state cases, rendered between 1981 and 2000, and of the personal attributes of the judges who decided them, as well as the ideological, institutional, and legal environments in which the decisions were situated. The work both explains how diverse factors influenced the adjudication of civil rights claims during a vital era of the homosexual civil rights movement and formulates promising methodologies for the meaningful quantitative empirical study of law.

• An unprecedented statistical study of the legal and political forces determining judicial recognition of the civil rights of lesbians and gay men • A comprehensive quantitative empirical examination of appellate-court policymaking • An exhaustive empirical test of (a) judicial federalism (the 'myth of parity') and (b) the doctrine of precedent (stare decisis)


1. Introduction; The context of the study; The cases; Case outcome variation by court system and subject matter; Geographic variation; Temporal variation; 2: Case narratives; Child custody, visitation, adoption, and foster care (CVAF); Lesbian and gay family issues not involving CVAF; Cases adjudicating sexual orientation discrimination claims not related to lesbian and gay family issues; Gays in the military; Cases adjudicating the constitutionality of consensual sodomy and related; Solicitation statutes and their Enforcement against gay people; Cases adjudicating the free speech and free association rights of gay people; Miscellaneous cases essential to lesbian and gay rights; Same-sex sexual harassment; Defamation involving homosexuality; Miscellaneous cases not essential to lesbian and gay rights; Conclusion; 3: The lesbian and gay rights claims models; The statistical analysis; Findings; Applying the models; Answers to questions posed in chapter 2; Model performance; Conclusion; 4: Judicial federalism and the 'myth of parity'; Judicial federalism variables; Findings; Conclusion; 5: A test of stare decisis; The legal literature; The political science literature; Lesbian and gay rights claims and precedent; Test one; Test two; Caveats; Conclusion; 6: Conclusion; Location, location, location; The promise of the states; The value of diversity on the bench; Time is on our side, Yes it is!; The vital role of interest groups; The power of precedent; Democrats, republicans, and gay rights; The forces motivating judicial decision making; The quantitative study of rights and of law; Epilogue.


'This book provides not only an excellent survey of recent judicial developments in the law of gay rights but, even more importantly, a superb empirical study of the determinants of judicial decision making, using the context of gay rights cases. Unlike most research in this field, Pinello carefully considers the role played by the law and precedent in court opinions. His analysis is based on extensive data. I highly commend it to scholars interested in the factors involved in judicial policymaking, as well as those concerned about gay rights law. It is simply the single best study of judicial decision making of which I am aware.' Frank Cross, University of Texas, Austin

'Gay Rights and American Law makes an impressive contribution both to the contemporary debate over lesbian and gay civil rights and to the scholarly literature on the politics of judicial choice. This intriguing volume comprehensively describes critical federal and state appellate decisions adjudicating the rights claims of homosexuals. But perhaps more importantly, the book provides a scientifically rigorous analysis of judges' votes in those cases and then places its empirical findings in a framework informing extant theories of judicial choice. The work is systematic, creative, and insightful. Without question, Gay Rights and American Law is a 'must read' for anyone concerned with the fascinating politics of judicial policymaking or the struggle for civil rights in America.' Melinda Gann Hall, Michigan State University

'This marvellous, well-argued book by a political scientist rigorously tests various assumptions about when American courts and politicians advance, and when they retard, legal recognition of the human rights of gay and lesbian persons. No serious activist, scholar, or citizen can ignore its findings (for example, the crucial importance to gay and lesbian rights of both presidential judicial appointments and the diversity of judges).' David A. J. Richards, New York University

'Daniel R. Rinello provides a highly provocative empirical analysis pf how American appellate courts over the last twenty years have addressed lesbian and gay rights claims. The project is striking, not only in its scope, but also with respect to some of the conclusions Pinello draws.' Political Science Quarterly

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