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Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  130 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
A renowned legal scholar tells the definitive story of the trial that will stand as the most potent argument for marriage equality.

In 2008, California voters passed Proposition 8, rescinding the right of same-sex couples to marry in the state. Advocates for marriage equality were outraged. Still, major gay-rights groups opposed a federal challenge to the law, warning that
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 14th 2015 by Crown
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I finished this nearly a year ago and I am just coming back to write my review. This isn't because I didn't enjoy the book or because I didn't feel like it was important. I tend to write personal feeling type reviews and I didn't know how to write this without turning it into something about me. Because the gay rights movement, same sex marriage in particular, is a topic that is incredibly important to me, but I am not gay. And because this topic IS important, but it's not mine.

Growing up I didn
The Book Jar Blog
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Speak Now is the story about the trial of Proposition 8, the law that was passed in California that banned gay marriage. Like many people, I followed the case with intrigue and curiosity. I didn’t know or understand a lot of what was going on at the time, at this book really helps clarify and explain everything. Yoshino not only delves deeper into explaining the trial, but he adds his own personal story and experiences which strengthens the book. He also includes historical background when neces ...more
Bob H
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As I write this (mid-April 2015), the U.S. Supreme Court is about to discuss, and perhaps rule on, the full issue of same-sex marriage in the 50 states. This book couldn’t be more timely. Although the Prop 8 case ended in 2013, it did provide a basis for subsequent arguments in other courts, and now the issue is before the Court in full measure. It’s worth looking back at this prior turning point, whatever the latest outcome.

This book may be perhaps the definitive, and most compelling, story of
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: law, reviews
It may seem strange to call a book of legal scholarship "beautiful" but that is the word that immediately comes to mind to describe "Speak Now." While the book is specifically about Hollingsworth v. Perry, Professor Yoshino also provides a relatively complete history of marriage equality laws in the United States. I am an attorney but I didn't feel that the text was overly burdened with legalese. The language isn't simple, by any means, but it is written in a way that laypersons can understand t ...more
Tex Reader
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
4.0 of 5 stars – Intelligent, Clear Explanation of Important GLBTQ Trial

This is a perfect matching bookend with the book about the seminal glbtq case of Lawrence vs. Texas (Flagrant Conduct by Dale Carpenter). But don't make the same mistake I did. Even having read and loved the Lawrence book, I was a bit leery that this one would be a lawyerly dry tome. It wasn't.

Kenji Yoshino writes in a clear, intelligent style about both the legal and personal aspects of this case and issues of marriage equa
i'd had this book on my tbr since reading yoshino's first book, Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights. in COVERING, yoshino makes arguments i agree with, some i don't, and/but the book definitely prompted a lot of thought and reflection on my part.

SPEAK NOW is definitely less... philosophical than COVERING; it's a nonfiction history, constitutional law book more than a theoretical manifesto. which is to say – it wasn't what i was expecting? but i still really, really enjoyed it. yoshi
Jun 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Two-part disclaimer, although I don't think either of these biased my review of the book..
1) I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. It was SO EXCITING to get the email that I'd won and then come home to see a book-sized package on my porch!! Total score!
2) The author is a professor at NYU where I went to law school, although he wasn't there when I was, and I didn't know that until I read his bio on the book jacket.

I really enjoyed this book--it is actually a walk-through of the trial that too
Ronda Wingo
Mar 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
I like books that make me think. I also like books that teach me something. This book does both. I don't see how anyone approaching this book with an semi-open mind wouldn't see how marriage equality would make so many lives better. It presents every side of the argument and calmly uses what happened in the actual trial to prove that marriage equality is the best solution.

Plus, you get to know pretty much everything that happened at trial without having to read that horribly long transcript of
Coleen (The Book Ramblings)
Jul 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
If you have yet to read this novel, I highly recommend you do. Kenji Yoshino wrote a compelling, in-depth account on this historic trail that many–if not all– should be aware of. I was a bit concerned prior to reading this, due to the legal terms, however it’s beautifully written, and comprehensive. This novel is thoroughly researched though-provoking, and educational. Anyone interested in marriage equality in our nation should find time to read this.
Emily Snyder
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I need time to work on this review for my own records, but this book was incredibly well paced, presenting an unbelievably thorough account of the trial and its aftermath without feeling dense or dreary.
Heather Childree
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yoshino takes a difficult trial and explains the lawyerly stuff. So many parties took part that it is sometimes difficult to keep a clear idea of who is doing what. The author's own narrative helps convey the message of what marriage means.
May 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Originally published at Reading Reality

The title of this book is taken from the familiar traditional marriage ceremony. You know exactly where, too. It’s that famous, or infamous, point in the ceremony where the officiant asks whether anyone in attendance, “has reasons why these two should not be married, speak now or forever hold your peace.”

In fiction, it’s a dramatic moment, in real life, almost a joke. But in the case of marriage equality, there are all too many forces arrayed that would jum
Bonnie McDaniel
Jul 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is the story of one of the cases that led to Obergefell vs. Hodges, the recent Supreme Court decision that legalized marriage equality in all fifty states. Hollingsworth v. Perry is the trial that resulted in the striking down of California's Proposition 8, the citizens initiative that banned same-sex marriage.

Because the author is a Professor of Constitutional Law, he gets pretty deep in the legalese weeds here. No doubt some will find this boring; I found it fascinating, and the sto
Haley Keller
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads, re-read
This book essentially recounts the entire story of the Hollingsworth v. Perry trial from the very beginning all the way to the Supreme Court. Sprinkled into that story are bits of the author's own experiences that parallel what is happening in the trial.

As someone who was in high school for the bulk of the events described in this book, I was somewhat aware of what was going on with the case, but I had very little knowledge of all of the ins and outs of it. I never really knew exactly what it wa
Vincent Li
Nov 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have never considered myself an activist, nor have I engaged myself deeply in the conversation regarding gay marriage. It made sense that when I wanted to look into it, I looked for a source I could trust, Professor Yoshino. Yoshino does a great job of breaking down the trial into the key elements (heightened scrutiny, rational basis, legislative vs adjunctive facts), and his own research augments the factual nature of the book. I'm also impressed by how he wove his personal story into the mix ...more
Michael Griswold
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Kenji Yoshino is a legal scholar making him more than qualified to speak on the legalities of Hollingsworth v. Perry, I was a little concerned that he would be biased since he would have a personal stake in the outcome of the case, either way it went. Yet, the opponents of same-sex marriage are not horrible people while the proponents are not without flaw. Yoshino goes through and paints the picture of two groups of people on both sides of the debate who have come to defend/oppose California’s P ...more
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial was a nice, readable presentation of not only this case, but because of the trial process, the broader issues related to marriage equality. Which is saying a lot for a book about a single trial, with the potential of getting bogged down in a lot of legal mumbo jumbo.

To Kenji Yoshino's credit, he chose not to write in his "constitutional law professor" voice, but to add personal POVs. In doing so, this was told in a fairly conversational style, which was a ch
W. Boutwell
Mar 16, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: history
At this date, Mar 2016, the court case is passe. Even so, authors of trial books have their work cut out for them. Trials are very much like a colonoscopy: the people with the most at stake are obscured and inchoate, the major actors are muffled behind the mask of their trade and the results are simultaneous too obscure and too personal for comfort. What saves a narrative of this type is feeling the author is a reliable guide to the minutia of lawyering and the greater issues in question.
Feb 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, z2015
With the Supreme Court recently ruling same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states, this was the perfect time for me to read a book about the trial that started the ball rolling only a few years ago. Yoshino is a great author and brought the entirety of the trial - including some historical aspects - to those of us that followed the progression very closely, or those of us that were not paying close attention. My biggest problem with the book is not something that I think Yoshino could (or should) ...more
Adan Ramie
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
First, I want to point out that this is not my typical reading fare. I don't normally read books about law, legislation, or politics. In fact, in a lot of ways, I actually avoid those topics in books, and choose instead to inform myself in the shorter pieces one can find on news sites. Reading about the law, and the way that it has in the past been used to hold down minority or disfavored groups, makes my skin crawl and robs me of my sleep at night.

With that said, I really enjoyed this book. Par
May 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
"As gay people gave emerged from the closet, some religious opponents of gay rights have retreated back to the closet of the voting booth to express their views." pg. 58

"If there be time to expose though discussion the falsehoods and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence." Pg. 170

I would like to say that this is my favorite book about (gay) marriage equality, but I cannot as it really was the first on this subjec
Feb 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Kenji Yoshino's "Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial" is an excellent reference regarding Hollingsworth v. Perry. Mr. Yoshino did an excellent job of summarizing all aspects of this case in depth. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone taking legal courses or anyone interested in the history of Marriage Equality laws in the United States. It explores all facets of the legal case and also includes the author's own personal narratives. Well written and easy to read, it is an excellent ...more
Blaise Haddow
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reference, standalone
I really enjoyed this, overall. While I felt that the first part of the book (before the trial) could have used a bit of restructuring/reorganization because there is just so much information, the rest of the book is absolutely splendid. It's incredibly informative and manages to be entertaining, which I really appreciated. The author's style is somehow both casual and formal, and I enjoyed his voice.

If you'd like to read my full review, you can check that out [ on my blog ].
Jul 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
After the events of the SCOTUS this year, I thought Yoshino's book on California's Prop 8 case would feel like old news or at least dated, particularly with the many other books out on the topic and Roberta Kaplan's forthcoming book. I was wrong. Yoshino makes a compelling case about how Hollingsworth helped to build momentum for greater acceptance for marriage equality and by extension argues for the reinvigoration of robust trials. Speak Now is engaging, fast paced, and compelling. A delightfu ...more
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Yoshino does a fantastic job diving into the details about the trial and adds his own personal story along with it. He also adds in historical background when needed and helps the readers understand what happened at the trial. This well researched novel is easily readable for anyone who doesn't fully understand legal terms (like me). If you have not read this story yet, I highly recommend it to you.
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
A compelling overview of the case which was ultimately appealed to the Supreme Court and which allowed same-sex couples in California free to marry. Focusing on the state court trial about the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the ban on gay marriage, Yoshino reviews the fact-finding aspect of our judicial process against the backdrop of his own personal experience about coming out, falling in love, getting married, and having a family.
Feb 11, 2016 rated it liked it
In his examination of the trial, Yoshino lauds the technique of the plaintiff’s legal team in intermixing personal testimony with expert witnesses, arguing that “the lay witnesses kept the testimony from feeling dry, while the experts kept the testimony free feeling idiosyncratic.” Perhaps utilizing a similar technique, Yoshino mixes in personal anecdotes, often starting or finishing a chapter with a personal touch. read more
MC Wilder
May 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book as part of Goodread's First Reads.

This book was incredibly well researched, and the level of commentary and discussion Yoshino provides is astounding. An amazing read, and far from the typical dry judicial account thanks to the author's personable and relatable writing. Would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in how the fight for same sex marriage progressed.
Eminently approachable, clear, insightful handling of a topic that couldn't be more important -- and relevant to patron interests -- right now. The author's skillful use of interviews is particularly welcome. He takes what could be a dry journalistic topic and gives it emotional pull. You'll want to have a lending copy on display as soon as it's released.
May 14, 2015 rated it liked it
This is a super easy read; it makes Perry v. Hollingsworth and its consequences completely understandable for the lay person (versus a lawyer). If you've already read one of the more in-depth books about the case, however, this'll be a very redundant and unnecessary read. If you haven't, and you're interested in knowing more about the trial, though, you can't go wrong with this.
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Kenji Yoshino is the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU School of Law. He was educated at Harvard (B.A. 1991), Oxford (M.Sc. 1993 as a Rhodes Scholar), and Yale Law School (J.D. 1996). He taught at Yale Law School from 1998 to 2008, where he served as Deputy Dean (2005-6) and became the inaugural Guido Calabresi Professor in 2006. His fields are constitutional law, an ...more
More about Kenji Yoshino

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