When the Supreme Court held in June that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, the moment must have been doubly sweet for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As a lawyer in the 1970s, she brought and won a groundbreaking series of sex-discrimination cases that helped strip marriage of its officially gendered roles — a change that paved the way for the claims of gay and lesbian couples.
On a June afternoon in 1982, Joan Didion strolled through San Salvador’s Metrocenter Mall in search of water-purification tablets. The complex billed itself as “Central America’s Largest Shopping Mall,” and Didion took note of all its bourgeois trappings: designer blue jeans, foie gras, bar carts, expensive vodka. Outside, a three-year-old civil war seethed.