Why, Joseph Mello asks, did conservative opponents of same-sex marriage enjoy such an advantage when debating this issue in the popular arena of a ballot measure campaign? And why were they less successful at mobilizing the language of rights in the courts? His analysis shows us that rights don't just entitle us to resources; they also shape the way we see ourselves and are perceived by others. Thus, by using the language of rights to frame their cause, conservative opponents of same-sex marriage were able to construe themselves as victims of oppression, their religious and moral beliefs under threat. The same language, however, proved less useful, or even counterproductive, in courtrooms, Mello concludes, because the courtÃ¢ÂÂs norms and constraints force arguments to undergo more searching scrutinyÃ¢ÂÂand rights-based arguments against same-sex marriage contain discriminatory stereotypes that cannot be supported with evidence.
In its analysis of the same-sex marriage issue, The Courts, the Ballot Box, and Gay Rights provides insights that illuminate some of the most salient rights-based issues of our timeÃ¢ÂÂincluding affirmative action, abortion, immigration, and drug policy. The book offers a new way of understanding how such issues are decided, and how important context can be in determining the outcome.
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