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Gay Rights and American Law
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  • 24 tables
  • Page extent: 366 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.5 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521012140 | ISBN-10: 0521012147)

  • Also available in Hardback
  • Published June 2003

Available, despatch within 1-2 weeks

$34.99 (P)

Daniel Pinello's exhaustive study analyzes how federal and state appellate courts treated the civil rights claims of lesbians and gay men between 1981 and 2000. Pinello examines 1,439 votes by 849 appellate judges in 398 decisions and opinions from 87 courts in all federal jurisdictions and 47 states. His investigation reveals that legal variables; judges' personal attributes; environmental factors (juridical ideology, consensual sodomy statutes, and gay civil rights laws); institutional determinants (judicial selection method and term length); and time and interest group participation were significant forces in judicial policymaking.


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.

Prize Winner

CHOICE Outstanding Academic Titles, 2005


"[A] highly provocative empirical analysis...The project is striking..." Michael R. Siebecker, Hofstra University School of Law, Political Science Quarterly

"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 at 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 Univerity

This marvelous, 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

"Gay Rights and American Law is an excellent analysis of judicial decision-making on gay rights issues that should be read by public law researchers, whether their focus is quantitative or qualitative analysis." Law and Politics Book Review

"This pathbreaking work presents a thorough analysis of a comprehensive dataset of the 393 state and federal appellate court decisions 'essential' to gay and lesbian rights during the last two decades of the 20th century and the judges who cast votes in them.... Essential." Choice

"In this comprehensive examination of appellate court decisions affecting gay and lesbian civil rights during the last two decades of the twentieth century, Daniel Pinello uses statistical analysis to illustrate the interplay of diverse factors influencing judicial decisionmaking...Civil rights activists, legal practitioners, political scientists, and legal scholars should all take note of this comprehensive and thought-provoking book." Harvard Law Review

"In Gay Rights and American Law, Daniel R. Pinello demonstrates the value of quantitative analysis to legal scholarship. The book provides important analysis of the recent legal history of the lesbian and gay rights movement. More generally, it supplies insight into, and valuable analysis of, the judicial decisionmaking process... Throughout this detailed and engaging work of empirical resesarch, Pinello conveys his impatience with the current rate of progress towards consistent American judicial respect for gay and lesbian relationships and individuals." Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review

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