Advocacy for Marriage Equality: The Power of a Broad Historical Narrative During a Transitional Period in Civil Rights
78 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2015 Last revised: 8 Mar 2016
Date Written: July 4, 2015
Previous civil rights movements in the United States define broad historical patterns that form a narrative helpful to a proper understanding of new controversies. In essence, as a society we often could benefit from a reminder that our actions today will form the history for future generations, who will judge us with benefit of hindsight and a broader perspective. With each new civil rights controversy, we owe it to ourselves and to the victims of discrimination to ask whether we are once again in a period of transition, where contemporary objections to civil rights claims will soon sound as jarring as Justice Bradley’s concurrence in Bradwell v. Illinois sounds to us now.
The recent history of litigation over same-sex marriage rights provides a good example for analysis and discussion. This paper argues that marriage equality fits within a recognizable historical pattern within the United States, first of denying a civil right, then recognizing the right, and later wondering – with some embarrassment – how we could ever have voiced uncertainty about the right.
Keywords: same-sex marriage; marriage equality; civil rights history; narrative; storytelling; civil rights advocacy
JEL Classification: K19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation