The Story of Goodridge V. Department of Public Health: The Bumpy Road to Marriage for Same-Sex Couples
17 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2006
Book chapter, forthcoming in Family Law Stories (Carol Sanger, editor; Foundation Press) This essay examines the story behind the 2003 decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that changed the common law definition of marriage to allow same-sex couples to marry. Along with surveying the highly contested quest to obtain marriage equality for same-sex couple, the essay focuses on the arguments and the litigation strategy used by the lawyers for the plaintiff couples, contrasting them with the arguments and strategies used in earlier attempts to obtain recognition for relationships between people of the same sex. In particular, the article contrasts the top-down litigation strategy used in the Goodridge case - in which leaders of a lesbian and gay rights advocacy organization controlled the litigation and the selection of the plaintiffs - with the bottom-up approach that characterizes early gay rights litigation and some recent same-sex marriage cases.
Keywords: family law, same-sex marriage
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