In the courts, the best chance for achieving a broad set of rights for gays and lesbians lies with judges who view liberalism as grounded in an expansion of rights rather than a constraint of government activity. At a time when most gay and lesbian politics focuses only on the issue of gay marriage, Courts, Liberalism, and Rights guides readers through a nuanced discussion of liberalism, court rulings on sodomy laws and same-sex marriage, and the comparative progress gays and lesbians have made via the courts in Canada. As debates continue about the ability of courts to affect social change, Jason Pierceson argues that this is possible. He claims that the greatest opportunity for reform via the judiciary exists when a judiciary with broad interpretive powers encounters a political culture that endorses a form of liberalism based on broadly conceived individual rights; not a negative set of rights to be held against the state, but a set of rights that recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of every individual.
Jason Pierceson is Assistant Professor of Political and Legal Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield.
Acknowledgments1. Introduction2. U.S. Federal Courts and Gay Rights: A History of Hesitancy3. Liberalism and Gay Politics: Rights and Their Critics4. Toward a Better Liberalism5. Sodomy Laws, Courts, and Liberalism6. Lessons from Continued Sodomy Adjudication7. Courts and Same-Sex Marriage in the United States: Hawaii and Alaska8. Courts and Same-Sex Marriage in the United States: Vermont9. Developments after Vermont: An Evolving Jurisprudence and Its Backlash10. Canada: Rethinking Courts, Rights, and Liberalism11. Courts, Social Change, and the Power of Legal Liberalism12. ConclusionNotesIndex