Out of the Closets and into the Courts

Legal Opportunity Structure and Gay Rights Litigation

Subjects: Political Science, American Politics, Law, Sexuality Studies
Ebook : 9780472021574, 308 pages, January 2009
Paperback : 9780472031719, 312 pages, 19 tables & charts, 6 x 9, September 2006
See expanded detail +
Or shop at these retailers: Amazon - Kindle

Draws on political science, law, and sociology to explain the origins, progress, and outcomes of gay rights litigation

Look Inside

Copyright © 2005, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.


Over the past 30 years, the gay rights movement has moved from the margins to the center of American politics, sparking debate from bedroom to boardroom to battlefield. Out of the Closets and into the Courts analyzes the most recent gay rights cases, and explores the complex relationship between litigation and social change. Ellen Andersen describes what happens when these cases—many overseen by the Lambda Legal Defense Fund, the nation's oldest and largest gay rights defense firm—enter the courtroom, and explains why they have met with mixed success.

Out of the Closets and into the Courts explores both the promise and the limits of using legal mobilization to effect social change. Crossing disciplinary boundaries, Ellen Andersen draws on the accumulated knowledge of political science, law, and sociology to explain the origins and outcomes of gay rights litigation. The resulting book is essential reading for anyone interested in gay rights, legal change, and social movements.

Ellen Ann Andersen is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

"An excellent book, enlightening and well-written. Out of the Closets and into the Courts should be highly useful in the classroom and of interest to a broad audience."

- Evan Gerstmann, Loyola Marymount University

"A detailed historical analysis of changes in the law surrounding gay and lesbian relationships, Out of the Closets and into the Courts also breaks fresh ground in thinking about how and when law can be used to affect social change. The concept of a legal opportunity structure, which complements the concept of political opportunity structure, proves to be very useful in analyzing judicial changes in the law. A very impressive analysis."

- Mayer Zald, Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan

"Ellen Andersen's book integrates sophisticated socio-legal theory and thorough empirical research into a compelling, insightful analysis of legal mobilization campaigns led by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. This study makes a significant contribution to scholarship about struggles over gay rights in the U.S. and about legal reform politics in general."

- Michael McCann, University of Washington

". . . an important theoretical piece on the role of litigation within the gay/lesbian rights movement and, by extension, in all efforts for social change by traditional outside groups. Highly Recommended."

- J. Barth, Hendrix College