Harvard Law Review

Volume 117, Page 1299, February 2004

Gay Rights and American Law. By Daniel R. Pinello. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. 2003. Pp. xv, 349. $70.00 (cloth). In this comprehensive examination of appellate court decisions affecting gay and lesbian civil rights during the last two decades of the twentieth century, Daniel Pinello uses statistical analysis to illustrate the interplay of diverse factors influencing judicial decisionmaking. Professor Pinello's work encompasses a broad array of issues – from child custody, visitation, adoption, and foster care, to sodomy laws and related solicitation statutes – that defined the struggle for gay and lesbian civil rights in the 1980s and 1990s. Professor Pinello bridges the gap between political science and law by incorporating attitudinal, institutional, environmental, and temporal data into his econometric models. The conclusions that Professor Pinello reaches are often surprising. For example, he demonstrates that, contrary to conventional wisdom, state courts are no less hospitable than federal courts to the agendas of gay and lesbian civil rights advocates. Though Professor Pinello uses sophisticated regression analysis, his work is accessible to readers with little background in statistics. Civil rights activists, legal practitioners, political scientists, and legal scholars should all take note of this comprehensive and thought-provoking book.


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