*A "New York Times" Notable Book of the Year*
* A "Washington Post" Best Book of the Year (Nonfiction)*
* A "Kirkus" Best Book of the Year*
""" A] riveting legal drama, a snapshot in time, when the gay rights movement altered course and public opinion shifted with the speed of a bullet train... Becker's most remarkable accomplishment is to weave a spellbinder of a tale that, despite a finale reported around the world, manages to keep readers gripped until the very end."--"The Washington Post"
A tour de force of groundbreaking reportage by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jo Becker, "Forcing the Spring" is the definitive account of five remarkable years in American civil rights history: when the United States experienced a tectonic shift on the issue of marriage equality. Beginning with the historical legal challenge of California's ban on same-sex marriage, Becker expands the scope to encompass all aspects of this momentous struggle, offering a gripping behind-the-scenes narrative told with the lightning pace of the greatest legal thrillers.
For nearly five years, Becker was given free rein in the legal and political war rooms where the strategy of marriage equality was plotted. She takes us inside the remarkable campaign that rebranded a movement; into the Oval Office where the president and his advisors debated how to respond to a fast-changing political landscape; into the chambers of the federal judges who decided that today's bans on same-sex marriage were no more constitutional than the previous century's bans on interracial marriage; and into the mindsets of the Supreme Court judges who decided the California case and will likely soon decide the issue for the country at large. From the state-by state efforts to win marriage equality at the ballot box to the landmark Supreme Court case that struck down a law that banned legally married gay and lesbian couples from receiving federal benefits, Becker weaves together the political and legal forces that reshaped a nation.
"Forcing the Spring" begins with California's controversial ballot initiative Proposition 8, which banned gay men and lesbians from marrying the person they loved. This electoral defeat galvanized an improbable alliance of opponents to the ban, with political operatives and Hollywood royalty enlisting attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies--the opposing counsels in the Supreme Court's Bush v. Gore case--to join together in a unique bipartisan challenge to the political status quo. Despite stiff initial opposition from the gay rights establishment, the case against Proposition 8 would ultimately force the issue of marriage equality all the way to the Supreme Court, transforming same-sex marriage from a partisan issue into a modern crisis of civil rights. Based on singular access to the internal workings of this momentous trial--and enlivened by original interviews with the participants on both sides of the case, many speaking for the first time--"Forcing the Spring" is at once an emotion-packed tale of love and determination as well as an eye-opening examination of an evidentiary record that federal courts across the nation are now relying on to strike down bans similar to California's.
Shuttling between the twin American power centers of Hollywood and Washington--and based on access to all the key players in the Justice Department and the White House--Becker offers insider coverage on the true story of how President Obama "evolved" to embrace marriage equality, his surprising role in the Supreme Court battle, and the unexpected way the controversial issue played in the 2012 elections.
What starts out as a tale of an epic legal battle grows into the story of the evolution of a country, a testament and old-fashioned storytelling to move public opinion. Becker shows how the country reexamined its opinions on same-sex marriage, an issue that raced along with a snowballing velocity which astounded veteran political operatives, as public opinion on same-sex marriage flipped and elected officials repositioned themselves to adjust to a dramatically changed environment. "Forcing the Spring" is the ringside account of this unprecedented change, the fastest shift in public opinion ever seen in modern American politics.
Clear-eyed and even-handed, "Forcing the Spring" is political and legal journalism at its finest, offering an unvarnished perspective on the extraordinary transformation of America and an inside look into the fight to win the rights of marriage and full citizenship for all.
"The New York Times Book Review"
"A stunningly intimate story... Maybe because she's such a versatile reporter, Becker saw the big picture. The fight for marriage equality did not end in a total victory on the Supreme Court steps but triumphed in a higher court, the court of public opinion. It may not be the story she set out to tell, but it's a great one nonetheless."
"Publishers Weekly "(STARRED)
"An engaging narrative... a thorough, perceptive read... the book stands testament to good political writing and a wealth of information made alive through prose."
*** "Forcing the Spring "offers a thrilling perspective on the landmark Supreme Court case "Hollingsworth v. Perry "depicted in the HBO film "The Case Against 8 "and David Boies and Theodore B. Olson's "Redeeming the Dream ***
About the Author
JO BECKER is a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter for the New York Times. She lives in New York City.