Below the Radar: How Silence Can Save Civil Rights

Hardcover | May 12, 2015

byAlison L. Gash

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In 1993, the nation exploded into anti-same sex marriage fervor when the Hawaii Supreme Court issued its decision to support marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. Opponents feared that all children, but especially those raised by lesbian or gay couples, would be harmed by thepossibility of same-sex marriage, and warned of the consequences for society at large. Congress swiftly enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, defining marriage as between a man and a woman, and many states followed suit. Almost a decade before the Hawaii court issued its decision, however, severalcourts in multiple states had granted gay and lesbian couples co-parenting status, permitting each individual in the couple to be legally recognized as joint parents over their children. By 2006, advocates in half the states had secured court decisions supporting gay and lesbian co-parenting, andincurred far fewer public reprisals than on the marriage front. What accounts for the stark difference in reactions to two contemporaneous same-sex family policy fights? In Below the Radar, Alison Gash argues that advocacy visibility has played a significant role in determining whether advocacy efforts become mired in conflict or bypass hostile backlashpolitics. Same-sex parenting advocates are not alone in crafting low-visibility advocacy strategies to ward off opposition efforts. Those who operate, reside in, and advocate for group homes serving individuals with disabilities have also used below-the-radar strategies to diminish the damage causeby NIMBY ("not in my back yard") responses to their requests to move into single-family neighborhoods. Property owners have resorted to slander, subterfuge, or even arson to discourage group homes from locating in their neighborhoods, and for some advocates, secrecy provides the best elixir. Not every fight for civil rights grabs headlines, but sometimes, this is by design. Gash's groundbreaking analyses of these strategies provide a glimpse of the prophylactic and palliative potential of low-visibility advocacy.

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In 1993, the nation exploded into anti-same sex marriage fervor when the Hawaii Supreme Court issued its decision to support marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. Opponents feared that all children, but especially those raised by lesbian or gay couples, would be harmed by thepossibility of same-sex marriage, and warned of the ...

Alison L. Gash is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Oregon. Her research explores how policy advocacy mechanisms shape policy outcomes. She has written on various forms of legal and political advocacy with a particular focus on civil rights. Prior to receiving her Ph.D. at University of California, Berkeley...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:280 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:May 12, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190201150

ISBN - 13:9780190201159

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Table of Contents

List of TablesList of FiguresAcknowledgements1. Introduction2. Below the Radar Advocacy3. A Public Debate on Same-Sex Marriage4. The Silent Struggle for Same-Sex Parental Rights5. Group Homes in Gridlock: Litigation and Backlash over Group Home Location6. To Tell or Not To Tell: Secrecy or Transparency in Group Home Sitings7. Revisiting VisibilityReferences

Editorial Reviews

"A groundbreaking study that compares the efficacy of high and low visibility legal strategies in civil rights struggles. Insightful, elegantly written, and powerfully argued, Below the Radar is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the politics of rights, litigation , andsocial movements in the United States and beyond." --Jeb Barnes, University of Southern California