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The great political philosopher John Stuart Mill once asked, “Was there any domination which did not appear natural to those that possessed it?” (Mill 1984, 269–270). For same-sex couples seeking access to the institution of marriage, the public sense that marriage is naturally and obviously meant only for opposite-sex couples has been a formidable barrier. The first state supreme courts to rule on same-sex marriage, in the early 1970s, simply relied upon dictionary definitions to hold that marriage was obviously a heterosexual institution.1 Politicians mostly ignored the issue altogether until the courts of Hawaii, Vermont, and Massachusetts forced public debate of the issue.

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Copyright 2005 American Political Science Association. Available on publisher's site at

Recommended Citation

Gerstmann, Evan. 2005. "Litigating Same-Sex Marriage: Might the Courts Actually Be Bastions of Rationality?" PS-Political Science & Politics 38(2):217-220.