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Civil Wars A Battle For Gay Marriage 
By: David Moats

Posted December 22, 2003

Metropolitan Books, Harcourt, Inc. (ISBN 0-15-101017-X) U.S.A. $25.00, Higher in Canada

When the three same-sex couples requested marriage licenses in their small Vermont towns, they simply wanted to declare their love and commitment. But the debate they ignited over their right to marry led all the way to the state Supreme Court. Eventually the Vermont legislature became the first in the country to make civil unions legal for gay and lesbian couples. But it was not an easy victory -- the bill sparked the fiercest political, social, and cultural struggle in the state's memory, setting neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother.

David Moats was in the thick of this drama, writing a series of balanced, humane editorials for the Rutland Herald that eventually earned him a Pulitzer Prize. Now, in an account of unstoppable narrative power, he tells the intimate stories behind the public battle. We meet the couples who filed the suit; the lawyers who spent years championing the case; and the one openly gay legislator in Vermont, who ensured victory with an impassioned, deeply personal speech delivered to the House at a crucial moment. Civil Wars is a remarkable drama of democracy at work on a human scale -- and a revealing story of individual lives swept up in the whirlwind of social change.

From Civil Wars

Bill Lippert was the only openly gay member of the legislature. He had purposefully taken a position five years before on the House Judiciary Committee, and now he was vice chairman. He had expected he would have the job of blocking anti-gay legislation if the court rejected the plaintiffs' claims in the Backer case. But now, as he scanned the court's ruling, it became clear to him that what the court had done was thrust a historic task squarely on his shoulders… He had only a collection of notes for the speech he was going to give. But as the vote approached, he knew it was time. He would speak from the heart. He would speak for his community. He took a deep breath as he stood up.

Praise for CIVIL WARS

  • ”In civil wars David Moats tells an inspiring story of political courage that has the excitement of a thriller. The struggle for equality that he describes is a story of sacrifice and triumph that changed Vermont and may well change the nation. It will certainly change the reader.” – U.S. Senator Patrick J. Leon

  • ”David Moats has taken a Vermont experience and made it into a national story that is worth telling.” – former Vermont governor Madeleine May Kunin

About the Author

David Moats grew up in San Mateo, California; graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara; and served in the Peace Corp's in the 1970's. He is the editorial page editor of the Rutland Herald, where he won that paper’s first Pulitzer Prize for his series of editorials in support of same-sex unions. His articles have appeared in the New York Times and the Washington Post. He is also a playwright who has authored a dozen plays. He lives in Middlebury, Vermont.


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