For more than a century before gay marriage became a hot-button political issue, same-sex unions flourished in America. Pairs of men and pairs of women joined together in committed unions, standing by each other "for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health" for periods of 30 or 40 - sometimes as many as 50 - years. In short, they loved and supported each other every bit as much as any husband and wife. In Outlaw Marriages, cultural historian Rodger Streitmatter reveals how some of these unions didn’t merely improve the quality of life for the two people involved but also enriched the American culture.
Among the high-profile couples whose lives and loves are illuminated in the following pages are Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams and Mary Rozet Smith, literary icon Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, author James Baldwin and Lucien Happersberger, and artists Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.