Same-Sex Marriage: A Reference Handbook, 2nd ed. By David E. Newton. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2016. 336 p. Acid free $60 (ISBN 978-1-4408-5049-1). E-book available (978-1-4408-5050-9), call for pricing.

This second edition of David E. Newton’s handbook on same-sex marriage provides a useful introduction to the topic. including chronologies, statistics, legal documents, and biographical profiles of key players and organizations. When compared with the 2010 edition, it provides a much-needed update on an issue that has seen considerable political and social changes in recent years. While it could prove quite useful to general, high school, and early undergraduate audiences, more advanced researchers may find it to be too broad an overview.

The second edition of Newton’s text has a slightly expanded and more organized global focus than the first, including data and statistics about same-sex marriage rates and public opinion about same-sex marriage from around the world. It also includes extensive coverage of Obergefell v. Hodges, the June 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage at the federal level. One unexpected change is the addition of a “Perspectives” section, which includes essays by activists and academics that speak to different aspects of the marriage issue. This section explores questions such as “Does gay marriage truly protect children?” and “What role does marriage play, if any, in the larger fight against oppression of LGBTQ people?” These may be useful vignettes for students looking to develop their own arguments around an aspect of same-sex marriage.

Some of the most comparable books to this one are topical monographs, which may be somewhat narrower in geographical or narrative focus but provide a similar level of detail and extensive bibliography. Pierceson’s Same-Sex Marriage in the United States: The Road to the Supreme Court (Rowan & Littlefield 2013) is one fine example, though limited in coverage to the United States.

When compared with other reference sources, Chuck Stewart’s Proud Heritage: People, Issues, and Documents of the LGBT Experience (ABC-CLIO 2014) provides more granular coverage of marriage laws and events at the state level, complete with primary documents, but is focused primarily on the United States. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of LGBT Issues Worldwide (2010) provides some coverage of marriage issues globally but lacks the data and documents found in Newton’s volume. Raymond A. Smith’s The Politics of Sexuality: A Documentary and Reference Guide (Greenwood 2010), which is not limited to same-sex couples, does a better job than Newton’s handbook at contextualizing issues around same-sex partnership and legal recognition within the broader context of struggles for marriage equality, including interracial marriage. Joanne Myers’s Historical Dictionary of the Lesbian and Gay Liberation Movements (Scarecrow 2013) provides just three pages of concise history of gay marriage in the dictionary itself and little overlapping coverage in its introduction.

The question that remains with topical handbooks such as this one is whether collocating biographies, chronologies, resources, and statistics on a single issue is as useful to researchers as consulting several well-researched monographs. For the reader who is entirely new to the topic, there is still value here, but others may be unlikely to consult such a source or find value in it should they do so. My only other complaint is that both the first and second editions of this book feature exclusively male couples on the cover art. There are so many beautiful portraits of LGBTQ people across the spectrum of gender identity marrying or fighting for marriage equality. It would be nice to see greater diversity there.—Madeline Veitch, Research, Metadata, and Zine Librarian, State University of New York at New Paltz


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