The book’s argument begins with a description of the prevailing attitudes about gays and lesbians and their rights, the current laws that prevent gays and lesbians from living freely and openly and pursuing their careers, and the fundamental beliefs within the United States that allow these attitudes and laws to continue. An examination of the Constitution lays the groundwork, and a brief history of its interpretation demonstrates the similarities to and differences from other recent civil movements. It is made very clear that the threats to freedom and civil rights that gays and lesbians are experiencing are dangerous to all Americans because they seek to limit or deny the basic individual freedoms on which the Constitution and the country were based.
A review of recent American court cases traces the forward and backward steps that society is making in terms of granting or denying rights to gays and lesbians. These cases involve laws about sodomy, same-sex marriage, privacy, and the Colorado amendment against antidiscrimination. Many of these laws are shown to be continually supported in the courts by reasoning that is circular and self-supporting.
In perhaps the most frightening of the book’s sections, the authors show how the religious right is working successfully to encourage the fears and confusion many people feel about homosexuality, and to use those fears to support laws and attitudes that keep gays and lesbians from enjoying the full freedoms and rights that they are guaranteed as citizens under the Constitution. It is argued further that these fears—all based on the belief that people and families should behave as they appear to have behaved in the postwar 1950’s, and the great horror to some that they do not—can just as easily be focused on any other group not conforming to those ideals, and can be used to take away their freedoms, too.
In conclusion, it is made clear that gays and lesbians in the United States simply want the same rights, freedoms, and respect that other citizens enjoy and that many of the laws that still exist prevent them from realizing this goal.