Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters


Civil Rites: The Gay Marriage Controversy in Historical Perspective


Family law, throughout American history, has developed amidst controversy. Though the work of many family lawyers today is routine – uncontested divorces and formulaic claims for child support are the “bread and butter for thousands of lawyers” (Friedman, 2004: 12) – family law, writ large, has been the locus of hard-fought battles over morality, privacy, state control over private life, civil rights, and federalism. The most trenchant battle in family law today is over the ability of same-sex couples to marry. This essay will consider the modern same-sex marriage controversy through the lens of history. Though there is a growing historiography of family law, Lawrence Friedman, as researcher, shrewd observer, and storyteller, is one of the original and best contributors to our collective understanding of family law history. His work provides both overarching themes and ground-level observations that are useful for reflecting on the ongoing controversy about same-sex marriage.

Publication Title

Law, Society, and History: Themes in the Legal Sociology and Legal History of Lawrence M. Friedman

Publication Date


Document Type

Book Chapter