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Gay Rights and American Law investigates how American appellate courts dealt with the struggle for lesbian and gay civil rights during the last two decades of the twentieth century. The study is grounded on an exhaustive database of both federal and state cases, rendered between 1981 and 2000, and of the personal attributes of the judges who decided them, as well as the ideological, institutional, and legal environments in which the decisions were situated. The work both explains how diverse factors influenced the adjudication of civil rights claims during a vital era of the homosexual civil rights movement and formulates promising methodologies for the meaningful quantitative empirical study of law.