We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

E-book purchase
Choose a subscription

Downloaded copy on your device does not expire. Includes 4 years of Bookshelf Online.


Where applicable, tax will be added to the above price prior to payment.

E-book purchasing help


The Rainbow after the Storm

Marriage Equality and Social Change in the U.S.

Michael J. Rosenfeld

Publication Date - 03 December 2021

ISBN: 9780197600443

336 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

Marriage equality and the transformation of gay rights are among the most important and also among the least understood social changes in modern times.


A detailed story of how social science contributed to gay rights gains in the courts.

For most of American history, public opinion was strongly opposed to gay rights. Marriage equality had negligible public support throughout the 1970s-1980s. Yet, starting in the 1990s, American opinion toward marriage equality changed more than any other attitude in the history of American public opinion. In Rainbow after the Storm, Michael J. Rosenfeld explains how attitudes toward marriage equality changed so much, and how public opinion change drove change at the ballot box and in the courts. As Rosenfeld shows, in three crucial same-sex marriage trials, the supporters and opponents of marriage equality faced off. Rosenfeld describes the struggles of the same-sex couples who, with few resources at their disposal, and against formidable state and religious opponents, sued for the right to marry and eventually won. The first comprehensive analysis of the marriage equality movement in the U.S., The Rainbow after the Storm tells the stories of key individuals, the court battles, and the society-wide explanations for the rapid liberalization of attitudes toward gay rights that made same-sex marriage the law of the U.S. sooner than almost anyone thought was possible.


  • Tells a detailed story of how social science influenced gay rights gains in the courts
  • Explains why marriage equality was the key social movement that paved the way for all kinds of gay rights successes
  • Leverages new analyses from a variety of sources, including nationally representative surveys, state datasets, and interviews to demonstrate how marriage equality has succeeded in reshaping American policy toward all queer people

About the Author(s)

Michael J. Rosenfeld is Professor of Sociology at Stanford University. He studies mating, dating, divorce, and the changing American family. He has published research about family history and especially the rise of non-traditional unions, same-sex couples, and interracial unions. He is interested in personal politics, national politics, the politics of intimate relationships, and the politics of parenthood.


"Rosenfeld explores the historical development of the public acceptance of gay rights but adds a sociological analysis of the conditions for that acceptance, using public opinion, legal analysis, and qualitative case studies. This makes the book a great resource for students interested in exploring the topic through multiple methodologies. The connections drawn to other marginalized groups in the concluding chapters will also benefit students broadly interested in social justice." -- H. H. Williams, Western Connecticut State University, CHOICE

Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    Part 1, Gay Rights and the antecedents of Marriage Equality 1950s-1990
    2. The 1950s and 1960s
    3. Stonewall and the 1970s
    4. The 1980s
    Part 2, Attitudes toward gay rights begin to change
    5. The 1990s, Fulcrum of Change: Politics and Culture
    6. The courts begin to appreciate gay rights: Romer and Baehr, 1996
    7. On Coming Out
    8. Public Opinion Change
    9. The Early 2000s
    Part 3: Marriage Equality Breakthroughs in the Courts
    10. Perry and Windsor
    11. April, Jayne, and their children
    12. On Children's Outcomes
    13. DeBoer v. Snyder trial
    14. Obergefell v Hodges
    Part 4: The Broader Implications of Marriage Equality
    15. Authenticity, Respectability, and the Desire for Marriage
    16. Many Closets
    17. Displacing and Non-displacing Movements
    18. Social Science in the Courtroom
    19. Afterword: A few Sobering Reminders
    Index of Abbreviations

Related Titles