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Lawyering for Marriage Equality


Scott L. Cummings


University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Douglas NeJaime


University of California, Irvine School of Law

May 11, 2010

UCLA Law Review, Vol. 57, p. 1235, 2010
Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2010-12
NYLS Clinical Research Institute Paper No. 09-10-31
UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 10-09

Abstract:     
Critics of litigation seeking to establish the right of same-sex couples to marry argue that it has produced a backlash undercutting the movement for marriage equality. In this account, movement lawyers emerge as agents of backlash: naively turning to the courts ahead of public opinion, ignoring more productive political alternatives, and ultimately hurting the very cause they purport to advance by securing a court victory that mobilizes opponents to repeal it. This Article challenges the backlash thesis through a close analysis of the California case, which contradicts the portrait of movement lawyers as unsophisticated rights crusaders and casts doubt on the causal claim that court decisions upholding same-sex couples’ right to marry have harmed the movement.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 98

Keywords: Marriage equality movement in California, analysis of 'backlash' theory, lawyers as activists, legislative history

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Date posted: May 12, 2010 ; Last revised: March 9, 2011

Suggested Citation

Cummings, Scott L. and NeJaime, Douglas, Lawyering for Marriage Equality (May 11, 2010). UCLA Law Review, Vol. 57, p. 1235, 2010; Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2010-12; NYLS Clinical Research Institute Paper No. 09-10-31; UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 10-09. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1604641

Contact Information

Scott L. Cummings (Contact Author)
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )
385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States
Douglas NeJaime
University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )
535A Administration
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States
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