“Speak Now, The Story of Hollinsworth v. Perry”-Review

Kenji Yoshino had his work cut out for him. This is a non-fiction work about a California trial that has been entirely superceded by the SCOTUS decision of last summer about homosexual marriage. Books about court cases need to spend most of their time trying to infuse life, in the form of relevancy, into proceedings that can be a riveting as a colonoscopy: the principal actor is invisible and inchoate, the practitioners are masked and unidentifiable and the results simultaneously obscure and much too intimate. To be successful, one must be erudite and dispassionate. You can’t have a dog in the fight if you want to get strangers to care about the outcome.
The book is well written but lacks the breadth of documentation that would have given the trial gravitas. Yoshino spends over 387 pages on this trial but does not even attempt to portray the issues with equanimity. His narrative frequently lapses into snarkiness and petty courtroom meanness.
The larger concern is the eternal tension between rights (as stated by the Declaration, divine rights) and democracy. Here we have multiple moving targets. Some peoples divine rights are sacrosanct and even the overwhelming will of the people s insufficient to overcome them, while the same champions enunciate the meme that democracy trumps other peoples divine rights.
It is a puzzle that this work made no attempt to unravel. Rather, Yoshino seemed to be enjoying the goring of someone’s ox, never imagining that what goes around might possibly come around.

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